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Honoring The Muse


Charles Walker Emmons Sunrise: January 22, 1956 - Sunset: December 4, 2020


Remembering Charles Emmons January 22, 1956 – December 4, 2020

A devoted husband and son, loving uncle and brother, philanthropist, and award-winning journalist, Charles Walker Emmons died in Denver at 64. It is not surprising that only after his passing were the depth and breadth of Charles Emmons’ journalistic achievements fully realized. A quiet, family-oriented man who could sit for hours without saying a word, Mr. Emmons’ contributions to Denver Urban Spectrum alone comprise more than 40 articles — almost 20 of which were cover stories—produced during an accomplished second career. “I am a writer and content provider who is passionate about telling stories that might not otherwise be told,” Mr. Emmons once posted. “Writing about business and community leaders, politics, entertainers, sports figures and lifestyles, my subjects are varied, but always pertinent.” A compilation of some of his work and a video tribute from his friends and colleagues is available on the Spectrum’s website, DenverUrbanSpectrum.com. Mr. Emmons earned a B.A. in Russian Studies from Principia College in 1978 and briefly considered leveraging his language skills in the armed forces. Following a visit to Russia however, he chose to settle in Denver where his mother, Audrey, and brother, Thomas, lived. He worked for the Auraria Bookstore for more than 30 years and retired as the store’s general merchandise manager in 2011, a role in which he managed a $1.2M budget and was responsible for both purchasing and marketing all non-book products, including computers, clothing and school/office supplies. During his tenure at Auraria, Mr. Emmons earned a M.A. in Mass Communications from the University of Denver in 1991 and launched a side career in journalism and public relations. In addition to Denver Urban Spectrum, his work has appeared in Colorado Tennis; CORE, Colorado’s Business Resource Magazine; In the Black Magazine; Perspective; The College Store; and YourHub.com. He earned five Scribes in Excellence Awards from the Colorado Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) in 1999, 2002, 2013, 2015 and 2016. In addition, he was also the recipient of the CABJ Print Journalist of the Year award in 2016. Denver Urban Spectrum publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris described him as a reliable, go-to writer. “He was quiet,” Ms. Harris says. “When I would ask him to cover a story, it would take him a couple of minutes to answer. Then he would ask questions, but he would always say yes. I don’t think there was one time when I asked him to write for us when he said no.” Mr. Emmons was a dedicated philanthropist as well. While his resume notes roles as a volunteer for KUVO radio station in the early 1990s and as a Trustee, member of the P.R. Committee and volunteer for Denver Kids, Inc. in the mid-1990s, his commitment to improving the lives of others ran much deeper than those references indicate. “In high school, Charles was like a wonderful, big brother...always watching out for me and setting a great example to follow,” says long-time friend Eric Mosley. “Later in life, I continued to look up to Charles, admiring his grace, wisdom and kindness. He is deeply missed.” Margaret Fomer, the retired executive director of Denver Kids, Inc., shares that sentiment. “He had a servant’s heart,” Mrs. Fomer says of Mr. Emmons. “He was a father figure who helped kids understand what it means to be a leader. He was an effective mentor who saw kids’ potential and helped them succeed. He was very caring—he was the real deal.” Mr. Emmons’ philanthropic work extended to another community-based organization, Youth with a Future, as well. He wrote articles that garnered public attention and, as a mentor, would encourage students to complete and excel in school. He would also review students’ essays for the organization’s e-book. “He was very encouraging and supportive of young people,” says Dr. Robert Fomer, Youth with a Future’s executive director. “He was a gifted writer who was willing to share his talent. We would meet in coffee shops. He would sit across the table and listen to our needs...and then he would say, ‘Let me see how I can help.’” Mr. Emmons is survived by Jackie, his wife of 20 years; his brother, Thomas; nieces, Amber Cook (Jarid) and Miranda Emmons; grandniece, Addison Cook; and grandnephew, Phillip Cook. .


The life and Times of

Charles Emmons


Independence Day Comes For Southern Sudan

arrived in Denver in 2001, and is the Sudan Program Director for Project Education Sudan (PES), a Denverbased Non-Governmental Agency (NGO). The University of Colorado Denver graduate returned to Southern Sudan this year to oversee the development four schools built in the villages of the Lost Boys PES. Television

By Charles Emmons

It’s Independence Day! On July 9,

the world will welcome its newest nation, The Republic of South Sudan. After over 50 years of a civil war of identities, steeped in religious, ethnic and tribal conflicts, a January 2011 referendum passed by 98 percent of South Sudanese, makes South Sudan Africa’s 52nd country. Southern Sudan will finally be a self-governed and selfdetermined nation. Southern Sudanese are elated. “A nation had been born and everyone seems to be happy. It was what we had longed for. We got the right that we had fought for,” said Bol Abiar, 24, a Sudanese expatriate. Abiar, a Lost Boy, arrived in Denver from Kenya in 2007. In the1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys fled Sudan in the face of war and genocide, leaving their childhoods, families, and future livelihoods behind. Virtually orphans, they trekked thousands of miles across Africa, taking care of each other, banding together, like the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Crowded in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, a fortunate 3500 young men, at the prompting of the U.N. started coming to the United States in 2001. Having come to the United States and Canada as children and adolescents, just after 9-11, many have grown into mature, educated young men, ready to return to Southern Sudan and foster its re-vitalization. Daniel Majok Gai, Bol Adiar’s brother,

journalist Tamara Banks introduced Majok Gai to the Denver community in one of her Studio 12 episodes on Channel 12. In her video broadcast, Gai fervently encouraged people, especially children in his village of Pagook that they must get an education. Executive Director Carol FrancisRinehart and former Lost Boy Isaac Khor Behr established Project

Education Sudan in 2005. FrancisRinehart, a 25-year veteran in African refugee assistance, was struck by Behr’s story of loss, and facilitated assistance to Lost Boys in Denver with everyday needs, schooling, and employment. While traveling to South Sudan, she has re-united eight young men, including Behr, with their parents and or families. A former secondary educator, she was captivated by

the Sudanese desire for education and reading, but she saw no schools, and decided she had to build them. “They said, ‘Education is their mother and their father, and that they would rather have a book than food’,” recalls Francis-Rinehart. Education is key to the South Sudan’s re-vitalization of its economy and cultures. Up until 1992 Sudan had a reported literacy rate of less than 30 percent, and today only 1 percent of girls attend school. Two generations have been undereducated, and currently literacy is estimated at 73 percent. Additionally infrastructure investment has been minimal. In a 2008 blog, former Lost Boy, Dominic D. Mathiang, noted that Southern Sudan covers over 355,000 square miles but only has four miles of paved roads. “In general I think everyone needs an education for yourself, and then after that you can benefit your country when you have that knowledge of giving them your services that they need,” says Panther Kuol, another Lost Boy and current Metro State business student. South Sudan’s needs are monumental. Besides primary and secondary education, clean water and healthcare remain priorities. Strong leaders must be developed in programs like the Leadership Institute of a New Sudan (L.I.O.N.S.), and they must work in concert with PES and other NGOs like CARE, and UNICEF in Sudanese localities. PES is developing four schools in partnership with the village leaders in Maar, Konbek, and Pagook. Each

school is developed with the needs of the locality in mind, with a clean water well and grinding mill to emancipate the girls. Operation of a grinding mill for grain is an essential skill for women in South Sudan. Micro economies are being created around these schools through the ‘business’ operation of grinding mills and brick construction machines utilized primarily for the construction of schools. PES is developing in-service teacher training which is being deployed through innovative means like podcasts powered by solar cells, because of the lack of electricity. For the safety of the chil-

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2011

dren, dormitories are also developed to board them. Small, but significant steps are being taken with their newly found freedom, which will take South Sudan leaps and bounds beyond its most dismal state. “All Southern Sudanese are planning toward receiving a new nation in the world and nourishing it like a baby,” said Majok Gai in an email interview. “We are all waiting for July 9, 2011 enthusiastically and eager to rule ourselves with freedom of speech, ownership of properties, equal rights and considerations for all citizens in South Sudan.” The guns have been laid down, and government of the new democratic republicwith its representative government and constitution facilitated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will be a challenge given the devastation caused by decades of war and over a century of oppression. Dr. Robert Hazan, Professor and Chair of the Metro State College Political Science Department expressed dismay at the levels of violence that have been tolerated in the wars in Sudan, but he is hopeful that with peace in the country it will move forward. “There are good wonderful people in Sudan, and it is not natural for them to be pitted against one another. Africa is naturally multicultural with a richness of cultures. The borders are natural, and it is not the will of the people to have these imposed identities,” said Hazan. After decades of conflict, peace must be a good fit or it is quickly discarded like a new jacket. With careful tailoring perhaps Sudan will wear its new garment until it becomes an old favorite.  Climb For Sudan Helps Project Education Sudan Raise $100,000 The plight of Sudan’s people has not seen much light. Darfur came to our attention because of Hollywood actors and activists. But you don’t have to be from Hollywood to care or show support. Metro State College of Denver graduates Joe Rogers and Nick Spivey will honor the journey of the Lost Boys by climbing all 58 of Colorado’s fourteeners within 70 days this summer starting July 2 through Sept. 9. Bol Abiar may join them when they reach Mt. Evans. “Everyone should have the chance to be educated, and this is our chance to raise awareness of those needs in South Sudan,” says Rogers. “That is why we’re doing what we love in climbing, but we are also raising awareness for this educational need.” Helping Project Education through Climb for Sudan is simple. Visit www.crowdrise.com/climbforsudan and make a donation and support Project Education for Sudan by going to its Facebook page and

liking it.


Volume 27

Celebrate Celebrate Cinco Cinco de de M Mayo ayo

Number 2

May 2013

Special Love For A Mother’s Day...8 Raising The Bar On Technology...9 Seizing Opportunities Through Sports...14

Linda Richardson Flamenco Is Her Passion...4 Photo by Lanae King


Linda Richardson

Flamenco F lamenco A Celebration of Culture & Self Expression Denver Teacher Linda Richardson Shares Passion for Flamenco

O

n the first weekend in May, some 400,000 revelers will converge on Civic Center Park for the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. This holiday, celebrating freedom and the Mexican culture, commemorates the 1862 victory over French troops by a severely outnumbered Mexican army. The historic event was instrumental in the eventual ouster of further foreign influence in Mexico. While Mexico already had a rich cultural heritage from the Aztec and Mayan civilizations, Columbus’ arrival and Mexico’s subsequent colonization deposited new European influences and culture there. Before Columbus, most historians agree dance in Mexico focused mainly on religious rites in tribute to the Aztec and Mayan gods. After Mexico became a Spanish colony, popular dance traditions reflected the culture of the new occupants. Europeans brought the polka, waltz and Flamenco. Later with the intermarrying of Spanish and indigenous people, the folk dances began to reflect the merging of cultures. Mexican folk dances or Baile Folklorico evolved by borrowing different aspects of the diverse cultural art forms. The similarities between Folklorico and Flamenco, for instance, are easily discovered. The large flowing skirt, the hand movements and the feet stamping are familiar features of Flamenco that were translated into the folk dances. Flamenco consists of three major elements – singing, guitar and dance. Its origins reach far back into history, with roots in East India and influences

Photos by Lanae King

By Charles Emmons

from the disparate, persecuted populations of the Iberian peninsula, which included Gypsies, Jews and Muslims. During the 15th century, these populations were forced to convert to Christianity or face expulsion or death. Many fled to the mountains of Spain or left the country. Flamenco developed to express their emotions about dealing with the harsh realities of this life.

“W

hen I first started learning Flamenco, I thought it was important to get the footwork or to get the body movements just like my teachers,” said Linda Richardson, 36, who recently studied the art form in Spain under a Fulbright fellowship. “After spending three years there, I realized the most important thing was to be myself and bring my own experience, because as hard as I try to emulate a Spaniard dancing Flamenco, I will never be able to do that. Just to have my own take on Flamenco is much more important. Self expression is very, very important.” Richardson first traveled to Seville in Spain’s Andalucía region, the birthplace of Flamenco, 12 years ago to study the art form for four months. As a port city, Seville was long the sole conduit for trade with the Americas, and possibly exported Flamenco here as a result. The art form began in the homes with singing and dancing, and the guitar was added later. Modern Flamenco has branched out, borrowing from other genres including jazz, but Richardson felt drawn to Flamenco puro, the original form with the three traditional elements.

The lyrics of Flamenco have many different themes: happiness, sorrow, or anything relevant to the feelings of the composer. The words celebrate life at the same time as they console and help the artists and audience deal with daily struggles. The music is filled with duende, which means spirit, and many people interpret duende as like having a religious experience. That happens when you give 100 percent of yourself, you’re not self-conscious, and you give yourself totally to the art form – it transports you to a different kind of feeling, said Richardson, who teaches Flamenco and pushes her students to commit totally to their performances. The 100 percent commitment is both emotional as well as physical. She said a great performance shows the vulnerability of the artist. It takes hours and hours of practice to become technically proficient, but this may not always be the ultimate objective. The goal is to become proficient within your own experience, which inherently will not be the same as anyone else’s.

R

ichardson was born to her South Korean mother and AfricanAmerican father, when he was stationed with the Air Force in Seoul, South Korea. After a few years there, Richardson’s family moved to Denver where she spent her primary years on Lowry Air Force Base. They then moved to Colorado Springs, where she spent her formative years and saw Flamenco for the first time in a film. It piqued her interest and led to her further study of the art form. Later, “When I was living in Arizona, I had a friend who did

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2013

Flamenco dance and she had these beautiful red shoes,” recalled Richardson. “On the bottom of these shoes, they had small nails on the toe and the heel, so they looked like tap shoes. Her shoes had really cool ribbons. I was just enamored with her shoes and I went to class with her. And from then on, I was hooked.”

M

eanwhile, Richardson studied the clarinet at the University of Northern Colorado, but graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor of arts in humanities. She was recently accepted into the Boettcher Teacher Residency Program, and will be working towards a master’s degree in education at Regis University this fall. She teaches Flamenco at the Denver School of the Arts and Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy. She believes that this type of self expression, based in personal experience rather than rote imitation, is important for students to grasp. “I really enjoy teaching them, because they are so open to learning a new art form,” she said. “Within Flamenco, there may be movements that are familiar to them either through their families or maybe through their friends and how they dance with them, or what they see on television, and it is relevant. So for them to make connections like that is really important.” The appeal of Flamenco for Richardson is that the dancers bring their experiences and vulnerabilities to their performances, so they are always unique. Continued on page 6


Linda Richardson Continued from page 4 “Only I can do it like I do it. They can only do it how they do it. They will never be able to dance like me,” she observed. “And I will never be able to dance like my favorite Flamenco artist, and that is okay. You would just make yourself crazy trying. But if someone lifts up their arms in a very deliberate way that comes from their soul – that is what Flamenco is about.”

S

he noted that when you see a performance your attention is frequently drawn to the dancer. In most dance art forms, the musicians are secondary, but in Flamenco, the musicians and singers are equally important. In traditional Flamenco, the emphasis is actually on the singer, not the dancer. “There is always singing. Flamenco cante, Flamenco singing is so difficult. If you have heard Indian or Turkish or Moroccan music, they use a lot of melismas (groups of notes sung during one syllable). It is difficult to achieve, so you don’t find a lot of Flamenco singers, especially American artists. We do what we can with what we have. You will see a lot of dancers with guitarists and not usually singing. But the core of Flamenco is

the singing. As a dancer, my responsibility is to interpret the singing. If you ever go to a Flamenco show and there isn’t singing, it is incomplete,” she explained. The basis of this singing is the cante jondo (pronounced hondo), which is often sorrowful tones or as Richardson described, “guttural singing from your heart.” These slow songs make it more challenging to match dance movements, so this is where the life experience of the dancer comes into play. Rather than display athleticism, dancers may slow their pace. For example, older dancers may have physical limitations where they can’t move their feet really fast, but they have a command and deep understanding of the music. Some of the best dancers are those that stand motionless, but can still project great feeling and emotion. “You don’t see the younger ones able to do that, able to carry that. It’s really the older ones. I think because of a lot of life experience, they are able to do that,” she said.

N

ot all Flamenco is about pain and sorrow. Just as upbeat blues lifts spirits, Flamenco has cante chico, which is more light-hearted, faster singing with the same rhythms of cante jondo but played in a different key by the guitarist.

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Similar to jazz, Richardson explained, Flamenco is a structure or framework of rhythms within which the members of a Flamenco group can improvise. This improvisation creates a rich blending of the dance, song and music. The fourth element in Flamenco is audience participation. Flamenco is best performed in an intimate setting where the performer feeds off the audience. “The audience is very important to the improvisational nature of Flamenco,” said Richardson. “It’s like this kinetic energy, this exchange of energy as a performer, and what the audience is giving you. It’s like both parties are being nourished and as a result you get a different performance, and more of an improvisational nature.”

I

n Flamenco, jaleos (shouts of encouragement) are given to the cuadro. If a performer is really connecting to the audience members, they will respond. Flamenco is disciplined, yet freeing – collaborative but individualistic. Richardson prepares for her performances with live musicians, and collaborates with her guitarist in finding different rhythms. These rhythms come from many various sources including Cuba and Africa. “You can’t be a dancer without learning how to manipulate the rhythm; you can’t be a singer without using the rhythm, and you can’t be a musician without rhythm. So fundamentally it is about the rhythm,” she said. “And from an African-American perspective, Flamencos in Spain are obsessed with Michael Jackson. You can see it in their movements. Jackson

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2013

is popular with Spanish Flamencos because of his mastery of body movement and genius with rhythms.”

R

ichardson recalled interviewing Gypsies in Spain and their attempts to connect to her as an African American. She feels extremely fortunate to have grown up in a multicultural household and to be able to share a common experience with the Gypsies. She has not found many African Americans interested in Flamenco. “I think a common misconception that foreigners or Americans have of Flamenco is that it is an art form that happened in the 1950s in big theatrical productions with really beautiful women with roses in their hair. But the reality of Flamenco is that it is much more tangible to different types of people. You can be really thin, really fat, really young or really old, and you can always do it. That is something that I want the masses here to understand and to know,” she professed. This month if you take in Cinco de Mayo, get inspired. Listen to the music with your heart, allow the rhythms to move your feet, let personal expression guide your performance, and you will be experiencing the fringes of Flamenco.  Editor’s note: For or information, about Flamenco or to take a class, visit www.flamencalinda.com. To view one of Linda Richardson’s performances in Sevilla visit, http://www.youtube.com/ watch? feature=player_embedded&v=EfHQ5qxe5 nk. This video demonstrates a complete cuadro which is one of the elements of a Flamenco performance and audience participation in the form of jaleos (or shouts of encouragement).


No matter where you happen to

live - Whittier, Montbello, Park Hill or any other neighborhood in the Denver metro area - consider yourself fortunate if you own your home. The impact in Colorado was less than in other parts of the country, but the Great Recession has not been kind to Blacks and Hispanics. For many, much of their net worth is attributable to the equity in their homes, and their values have significantly eroded. Homeownership grew from the late 1990s into the early 21st century, but values plummeted in 2009. African American homeownership has declined from 49 percent to 46 percent. Big banks, congress and Wall Street have all had their time in the blame spotlight, but what is needed are grassroots solutions with an expansion of collective community knowledge so that future crises in our cities and neighborhoods are averted. To preserve our communities we must step up to the challenge and become more aware, engaged and understand the impact and responsibility of home ownership. Fortunately, there is an ally in a body of real estate professionals who keep this at the forefront, and they recently met in Denver. They are the realtists of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the nation’s oldest minority trade organization and the oldest Fair Housing advocacy group. Nearly 2,000 realtists from NAREB gathered at Denver’s Grand Hyatt Hotel for their 66th annual convention August 4-7. Author Michael Eric Dyson as well as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, addressed the attendees. Established in Tampa, Florida in 1947 by 11 men and one woman, NAREB arose because Blacks selling and transferring properties were not allowed to join white real estate organizations and thus could not adopt the professional title of realtor. So, they became realtists. But these are more than salesmen and saleswomen chasing commissions. Like scientists, dentists and botanists, who share this suffix denoting someone who practices a profession, realtists passionately seek solutions to housing issues. “Democracy in Housing” continues to be the organization’s motto and battle cry. “When we sell a house, we sell hope,” said outgoing NAREB president Julius Cartwright, who finds it unique that NAREB, when it was established 20 years prior to landmark discrimination cases and the civil rights movement, was open to all races. The organization brings its messages to cities across the country, and Cartwright, for many reasons found that Denver was the appropriate city for the 66th meeting; one of them was

Selling Hope…Real Estate Convention Visits Denver By Charles Emmons in homage to wellCartwright says known Black real that Senators such estate practitioner, as Ohio’s Sherrod McKinley Harris. Brown, and con“That is a very gressional repreeasy answer. It’s the sentatives Elijah Harris family. Mac Cummings, Shelia Harris was a Jackson Lee, Outgoing President-CEO, Julius Cartwright handing staunch supporter presidential gavel to incoming president Donnell Eleanor Norton, of this organization. Spivey. Photo by Kelvin Moulton Phd have supported I came up in this these forums. The organization over the last 20 years culmination of these forums can be with very close relationships with found in an August 2013 result in a Patrick and Verne Harris,” Cartwright published report that will be available told me when I posed the question first electronically and then in hard ‘Why Denver?’ which barely has a 10 copy. percent African American population. Cartwright shared some net worth “Denver is a beautiful city, and it is figures that are surprising. “The average a city that many of our members have net worth of African Americans is not had a chance to visit. And so it between $4,900 and $5,700. These are the was an ideal city to have our convenpeople who own real estate. For those tion and it was an opportunity to supwho do not own houses its $1700.” port the Harris family,” he adds.” Black and Latino households have Verne Harris of Public Realty with most of their net worth in the equity of offices in the heart of Five Points, at their homes, and this was why they 26th St. and Welton, told me his father were hit so hard by the Great Recession. learned about NAREB in 1950. After A Pew Research Center study, entitled Al Snyder, the owner of Public Realty “Twenty-to-One-Wealth Gaps Rise to hired his father away from running a Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks bicycle rental stand on 26th St. and and Hispanics,” published in July 2011, California St., the young McKinley summarized that the median wealth of found he needed support in the organ- whites was 20 times that of Blacks and ization as he began his new career in 18 times that of Hispanics in 2009 at the real estate. end of the recession. This was attributed In 1965, he bought the company from to the significant drop in the value of Snyder. His two sons, Verne and their housing and unsecured debt. Patrick, run Public Realty today. In 2008 NAREB is ready to stand up and Verne was named top-selling broker address these issues by developing associate of the year by the Denver expert professional practitioners with Board of Realtors, an organization that pertinent toolboxes within their ranks. would not let his father join. NAREB has great resources and “It meant a lot to me to win that partners and includes all real estate award, when they would not even professionals, including developers, allow him to join. That’s huge…I am appraisers, contractors and lenders. the first black and only black to have Affiliate organizations within NAREB ever won that,” said Verne Harris, support the entire effort, such as NATwho lives the NAREB motto daily in PAC, a legislative advocacy arm; his business. United Developers Council-UDC, He believes that everyone, no matNAREB Investment Division (NID); ter his or her economic status, comes and the most active affiliate, the to a point where they need a hand up. Women’s Council. Together and apart, NAREB has been that support for these affiliates carry out the mission of communities across the country, NAREB and lend their expertise on organizing the State of Housing in the SHIBA report. Black America (SHIBA) forums since At the convention in Denver, memNovember 2011 in New Orleans, bers could take course on different Riley, North Carolina, Houston and tracks, from business development to Cleveland and at Morehouse College technology and energy. A NAREB and Howard University. partner offered LEED Certification Foreclosure mitigation, neighborexam prep courses at a reduced rate. hood blight and disaster recovery, Cartwright noted that African topped the forum agenda. “The disasAmericans are the highest consumers ter recovery focus was primarily in of energy, so energy literacy is sorely New Orleans, so that is where we needed. “Because it is one thing to get kicked it off at our convention.” counseling, and to get a budget, but if Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – September 2013

you don’t budget for utility costs and don’t understand the ways of energy conservation, then you can still find yourself in a financial bind,” said Cartwright. It is apparent that financial literacy may be somewhat lacking as well, and this is why there has been such a big push by NAREB to teach such basics as budgeting, investment and insurance. The 2011 Pew Research report showed that nearly 25 percent of African American households own no assets. Although many African Americans are doing well, the transfer of wealth through real estate and other means will be difficult in the future. This is another important goal of NAREB. “The other piece was to really focus on women and the women’s worth piece, said Cartwright, who pointed out that African American women’s net worth is $100 compared to white women’s net worth of $41,500. This great disparity is in part due to the number of single mothers in the community struggling to raise families. Women have always been a cornerstone in the African American community, so these statistics don’t bode well for a bright future. This is one reason the NAREB Women’s Council, with 15 chapters, has become so active and focused on educating the community. According to Melinda Dightman of the 2014 NAREB Women’s Council, $20,000 in scholarships were awarded in total to 20 students at the convention in Denver. “In my thought, it is essential to have an education to do the things that we need in business. Especially in housing,” says Dightman, who has more than 25 years in the real estate business and has been a NAREB member for 19. “There are so many African Americans that don’t own housing and many of them are singleparent women. So, we encourage education through financial literacy education we give them and through the techniques. We work with low- to moderate-income families and encourage the importance of owning a home.” She teaches financial literacy courses in her home city of Houston. Dightman wants African Americans to realize the importance and benefits of owning a home and once you are in it how to keep it. “We teach the importance of maintaining your credit. That is the main thing, and we teach budgeting. “It’s important to have a budget so that you know where your money is going each month.”  Editor’s note: For more information about NAREB, visit www.nareb.com. Charles Emmons is a freelance writer based in Aurora He can be reached by E-mail, at cwewrites2@earthlink.net.


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Arts Movement

Grimes is employed by the Colorado State University Denver Extension and is a successful playwright, who has taken his musicals to New York. Grimes enumerated the generational spectrum of Denver’s By Charles Emmons prominent Black dramatic arts, which began in the 1970s with the Denver ith the holiday season Black Arts Company, morphed into Eulipions, then the Shadow Theatre around the corner, parents will soon Company and now The Source with be crowding into small school venues Su Teatro. to see their child perform in traditionThe Eden Theatrical Workshop and its president Lucy Walker, now in her al holiday programs. Nothing makes 70s, has been an incubator for Black parents prouder than seeing their theater. Eden-influenced artists include Grimes, Hugo Jon Sayles and child in the spotlight. But what if the Shadow Theater Company’s director, child displays remarkable talent and a the late Jeffrey Nickelson. “A lot of us spark is lit spurring them to pursue a performing arts folks are a big extended family,” says Grimes. career in the arts, where do they go? CBAM has developed in two phasA new organization has been estabes. Despite the lished in wealth of art Colorado to talent in provide much Colorado, needed direcBlack arts in tion while Denver have building on been somethe fortitude of what languishDenver’s black ing. Grimes’ arts communistint on the ty, which SCFD board stands among revealed that world-class Black art and artist. cultural Renowned groups were performers missing somewho have Gully Stanford, Portia Prescott and Ken Grimes thing that caught the would take them to the next level, spark with roots of varying degrees in Denver include Pam Grier, Sinbad and making them more sustainable. Don Cheadle. Similarly, Colorado has “Phase two came out of crisis. Groups were having difficulty. Arts and produced fine artists Bob Ragland, entertainment is the fifth largest ecoJess DuBois and sculptor Ed Dwight. nomic sector,” says Grimes, who saw Denver has also nurtured members of less African American participation. Earth, Wind & Fire and jazz vocalist “You have groups that can’t qualify Dianne Reeves. Cleo Parker Robinson for public funding that was set up to just celebrated 43 years with her support them, so they are not able to world-renowned dance company. qualify for SCFD, CCI or for national The Colorado Black Arts grants.” Movement (CBAM) aims to leverage In 2007, the Colorado State this collective and put Denver on the Legislature created special tax districts arts map. In August, the founders (SCFD) to help fund scientific and culfacilitated the gathering of more than tural facilities with the intent of pro150 people at the home of Richard moting broader education, tourism Lewis, board chair of the Colorado and economic activity, all of which Black Chamber of Commerce, to goes to the betterment of our commulaunch CBAM. Its goal is to define Colorado as a leader in the performing nities. Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) is a division of the state Office of and cultural arts, while at the same Economic Development and time making Black arts sustainable. “Arts are always in flux. Even those International Trade, and was formed that seem like that they are succeeding in July 2010 through a merger of the former Council on the Arts, Office of are hanging on by a thread, “says Film, Television and Media, and Art Kenneth Grimes, a CBAM founder in Public Places program to capitalize and former Scientific and Cultural on the immense potential for the creFacilities District board member. ative sector to drive economic growth Other founders include Kadija in Colorado. Haynes, another former SCFD board According to CCI’s strategic plan, member, and Gully Stanford, director its goal is to be a Top 10 market for of partnerships for College in the creative industries and entrepreColorado.

Aims High

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com — November 2013


neurs. One of CCI‘s objectives is to ensure students are educated in the arts so that they are ready to enter the creative workforce, which is estimated at more than 186, 000 jobs. Recognizing that the arts play an important role in our communities, mechanisms and entities like SCFD and CCI act like quasi-patrons supporting and providing resources for creatives. CBAM wants to ensure Colorado’s Black artists are a part of the potential groundswell in the creative and entertainment economy. Stanford says, “The Colorado Black Arts Movement comes at an important time in Colorado’s cultural history, with expanding creative industries and the renewal of the SCFD on the horizon, this is the perfect time to convene, coordinate, celebrate and advocate for Colorado’s many, wonderful Black arts organizations and Artists...onwards!” It’s indicative of the direction the Colorado Black Arts Movement is poised to take. Eighteen months ago, community leaders, including Landri Taylor, president of the Denver Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and former councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, facilitated a two-day retreat to discuss the state and direction of Black arts in Colorado. With collaboration in mind, Grimes is enthusiastic about accessing the resources available to Black artists through entities like CCI, and believes the relationship can be reciprocal and inclusive. He notes that organizations look for grant panel members, but don’t know whom to contact in the African American community. Concerning the potential available to the community, Grimes often quotes John F. Kennedy, “A rising tide raises all boats.” For Black artists in Colorado to benefit, they have to be in the water, and in the vicinity. Initially, Grimes and Portia Prescott, CBAM acting executive director, will align CBAM’s goals to better access resources for the arts. “The four areas of focus on behalf of the community include: business acumen and resources; state and national reach; collaborations and partnerships; and youth arts pipelines,” says Grimes. All Black artists need to be in the pool. “It is not just the dramatic arts. It’s visual arts, fine arts, it is people involved behind the scenes, it’s lighting, set design, this diaspora of what we consider to be the arts community,” says Prescott. An Internet portal similar to LinkedIn is in development where artists can post their profiles, including experience, and interests and how they can contribute to the collective.

Grimes pointed out that Black artists don’t have agents. This portal will be a means to tap the talents in the community, and it will highlight these talents to the larger universe that will connect to it. “The reason we wanted to connect to the chamber is because we wanted to involve the entire community and the business community, because there is business acumen to the arts,” adds Prescott, CEO and president of Prescott Solutions. “There are a lot of organizations that are operating out there in little silos that you sort of heard about. So if we could command the respect of all the artists. That is

the goal, not to just put it out there, but to become that resource in demand.” Her passion for the arts runs deep in Denver, having grown up in the Eulipions youth troupe under the direction of Jo Bunton Keel. She also took ballet from Janice Guy-Sayles. She continues acting and credits Eulipions for the success she attained on and off the stage. “Out of something so small, in a studio on 29th and Colorado Boulevard, led to so much more,” says Prescott, who wants the same opportunities to be available to new generations. 

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com — November 2013


Bring Good Eatin’ to Your Table By Charles Emmons

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amilies are increasingly more conscious of what goes on their dinner table. Trans fats, fast foods, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and antibiotics are out. Healthier choices are in. This includes more fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as more healthy protein choices in minimally processed meats and fish. Weekly, families are inundated with newspaper ads and mail featuring advertising circulars for special bargains on every type of food outlet. But the owners and staff at Good Eatin’ in Aurora want families to make the choice to put fresh, healthy, affordable meat and fish on the table that the whole family will enjoy. Husband and wife business partners Kwame and Mkale Warner started the company in 2007 because they saw a lack of quality meats that were available in markets. After running a real estate investment enterprise for several years, which they were forced to close during the recession, Goodeatinonline.com was created in part out of necessity.

CPRD’s Granny Dances... Continued from previous page Cleo Parker Robinson (Shakti), the acclaimed artistic director, dancer and choreographer, has assembled a stellar cast and production team, showcasing some of Denver’s finest professional actors and musicians. The members of her internationally acclaimed Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Cleo II (her second company) and students of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Youth Ensemble and School are also showcased. This 22nd anniversary production of Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum welcomes Margarita Taylor as “Granny” for her sixth season, with 22 year “Granny” veteran Vincent C. Robinson and Ensemble alumni Katie Swenson joining as the three “Angels of the Rainbow.”  Editor’s note: Performances will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-20 with evening and matinee shows at the Byron Theatre Newman Center for the Performing Arts, University of Denver at 2344 East Iliff (@ University Blvd). For more information or to purchase tickets by phone call 303-871-7720. To purchase tickets online, visit www.newmantix.com.

Launched with $1,000, the company’s first exposure was door-to-door sales and farmers markets. The brick and mortar operation in northwest Aurora opened Memorial Day weekend in 2011. Good Eatin’ is a contemporary butcher specializing in meat packages that can be purchased for as low as $38 for the Senior Pac, which was developed by Mkale’s mother, Dee Anderson. Six other packages range from $59 for the Affordable and Delicious to $165 for the Great for a Family of Five. Packages are somewhat pre-determined, and can include steaks, chicken, pork chops, steak burgers, chicken nuggets, catfish and tilapia. But the Warners want customers to choose, so substitutions are allowed. Initially knowing little about the business, the Warners have worked diligently to educated themselves about the industry. They work with Colorado ranchers in sourcing grass fed, grass finished beef, and the fish is individually quick frozen at the source, which preserves freshness. Fish purchased in grocers and warehouse stores may have been refrigerated up to a week before you buy it because of multiple handling. Good Eatin’s chickens are all natural. The Warners are committed to the ‘from farm to table’ concept and they cook everything they sell. “We believe in the integrity of the product that we sell to our customers,” says Kwame Warner. The location for their shop is also important. The shop, currently next to a 7-Eleven at the intersection of Montview and Galena, was formerly Walt’s Fresh Meats, so there was some infrastructure in place. The neighborhood, situated between Stapleton and Fitzsimmons, is a mix of single-family homes and budget apartments. The Warners are committed to meeting everyone’s needs and have gotten creative with their offerings. They accept most cred-

it cards and the EBT Colorado Quest Card, but it doesn’t stop there. An incentive program allows customers to collect reward points (1 point for every dollar spent). After 250 points are earned through purchases, customers are rewarded with a $10 gift card. Points accumulate and do not expire. They relate the story of a customer, usually using an EBT Colorado Quest card, who paid $5 for a $59 package after accumulating enough points. Good Eatin’ is more than just a meat dispensary. Their aim is to create a culture of good food and family time around the stove, barbeque and above all the dinner table. Healthier choices build healthy families. Kwame and Mkale are willing to do their part by providing affordable, healthy meat and fish offerings and the education and instruction for easy preparation despite the busy schedules of their customers. Recently they partnered with Stapleton Foundation’s Be Well Health Initiative. The customer experience is at the forefront of Good Eatin’s business. Realizing that you have numerous places to spend your grocery dollar, Kwame says they don’t really chase after the Wal-Mart, King Soopers or warehouse customer. “Rather than competing, we are creating,” he says. The Warners are confident they are on the right path by listening to and counseling customers on meat purchases. Everyone loves to come in and talk with Tim Johnson, one of their associates, who works at Good Eatin’ with his wife Joanne. Kwame jokingly referred to themselves as “meattenders” and said that 95 percent of their business is word of mouth.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2013

The word has spread and the community has responded. Their sales doubled the first year, and in the second year, they grew another 75 percent, according to Mkale. “We sometimes have three generations of families in the store at a time shopping together,” she said. The strength of their business is in listening to the customer. “We are not all about taking,” says Kwame. Their success has inspired them to give back to the community. Expanding upon the incentive program, they developed the Harvest Program, benefitting churches and non-profits. Congregants use the ID signed to their church when making purchases, and at the end of the month, Good Eatin’ cuts a check back to the church based on 10 percent of the purchases using the ID. Kwame, a volunteer with the recently held 100 Men Who Cook gala, have also partnered with turkey giveaways to the community. Most admired entrepreneurs are those who have tremendous success with their business and brand. But Kwame and Mkale Warner see success in their process as well. “We are entrepreneurs for a lifetime,” says Mkale. “We have succeeded and failed. Some things we did right and we have made course corrections. We want to see what the customer sees on the other side of the counter and build a level of community and culture.” Come see what’s in Good Eatin’s counter and you may be surprised by what you’ll find to put on your table to grow healthier families and communities.  Editor’s note: For more information, stop by Good Eatin’ at 10203 Montview Blvd., visit www.goodeatinonline.com or call 303-360-7781.

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masculine work? Does it require skill? Whom should a barber shave? It’s enlightening to know who has weighed in on these issues. The African American barbershop is frequently a window into the community in literature. Vassar College history professor Quincy T. Mills published his research on the African American barbershop, in a book, Cutting Along the Color Line, Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America (2013).

accommodation for Blacks provided that Black men and white men could not be shaved next to each other, because that would imply social equality. When the Civil Rights Act of 1872 was passed, many African Americans came to these ‘color line’ barbers for a shave and a haircut but were refused by their brethren for economic reasons. They feared they would lose customers if they started shaving blacks and whites in the same shop. The color line practices continued well into the 20th century despite protests in the Black community. White barbers, who were mostly European immigrants, eventually increased competition, but they would not cut black hair, claiming not having enough skill. African Americans continued to go to barbers in their growing, mostly segregated neighborhoods. Black barbers in many cities grew in wealth and influence. Mills writes in his book of one barber in Atlanta with three shops, which were not small, with one accommodating 25 chairs. He cites 1940 U.S. Census data indicating that there were 6,656 Black barbershops in the 14 cities with the largest Black male populations. They collectively grossed

In 19th century America, few men could shave themselves and strop a straight razor, so they went to barbers, many of whom were mulatto. The shave was normally the objective rather than the haircut. Whites would go to barbershops sometimes found in hotels or public bath houses where African Americans would provide the services. Customers found this arrangement suitable, because it gave the impression that African Americans sustained a servile position, despite compensation. Ironically, African American proprietors found this arrangement profitable. Laws denying equal public

$8,273,000, paying the 5,266 men and women employed $2,448,00. He also reports that in North Carolina, barbers pooled their resources to form insurance companies to support Blacks in their newly found industrial and professional positions. African American barbers have often been considered the foundation of the Black middle class in cities across the country. As laws and styles have changed, their shops and requisite skills have groomed a race throughout the Great Migration, two world wars, the civil rights era and Vietnam. They are true entrepreneurs,

MORE THAN A HAIRCUT The Historical Significance of African American Barber Shops BY CHARLES EMMONS

On any Saturday morning, you can find a young boy pulling away from their father, grandmother or mother as they are led to a barber’s chair. A familiar scene in African American barbershops, where getting a haircut is a significant rite of passage, the child is placed on the booster seat; the barber smiles and perhaps gives a word of encouragement, and the life-long education in the Black barbershop begins. As he grows older, the boy may stick with this barber who will give him numerous grooming lessons, or he may find another that suits him and be groomed in another fashion. Getting a haircut in the African American barbershop is more than a commercial transaction. Barbershops in the African American community are gathering places for public conversations in private spaces among men – boys, old men, young men. It really doesn’t matter. Everyone in the shop is a participant, whether they listen or choose to be a part of the conversation. This barbershop in the community arose out of necessity as former slaves migrated north and west settling in mostly segregated communities. Newly educated and employed, with an eye on prospering, albeit within the constraints of their freedom, African American men needed a place to talk about issues in their lives and how to best navigate their course in an oftenhostile world. The barbershop provided that safe, sacred space. The history of the Black barbershop and its evolution is complex, rife with paradox and struggle as African American barbers established their place in the economic landscape. The barber profession has been debated and questioned throughout history in relation to African Americans. Is it

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2014

with a constant eye on their businesses, providing a service to their frequently marginalized customers, and adding value with Black culture. There are about six barbershops along Welton Street, in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Three Denver barbers with roots in the area shared some thoughts about their shops. Frank Stiger has been a barber for more than 40 years. Learning a lesson that he wanted to work for himself rather than someone else, the laid off maintenance worker at Martin Marietta attended Colorado Barber College on Larimer Street and worked in two different shops before buying a house and remodeling the porch into his current shop, which opened in 1980. With three chairs and the typical style cut charts on the wall, he provides a civil space for a haircut and conversation. Numerous opinions have been expressed in Stiger’s shop. Customer names are usually held close to the vest, but he did comment that former Denver Broncos Tom Jackson and Goldie Sellers sat in his chair. The late Cosmo Harris and current editor of the Denver Post, Greg Moore, have also stopped by for a cut. But of course, not all patrons are famous. Stiger and his wife Maedella remarked that there had been so many young people who had their haircut in his shop that came back to say hello after leaving the neighborhood, many who lived in public housing. Wanting to make sure that everyone was groomed, “the 5th kid (in a family) was half price,” says Stiger. Understanding what customers want and need is just good business. If you have a philosophy and respect your customers success will come. Three-term Five Points Business Association President, Dee C. McGee has been a barber for more than 40 years since re-locating to Denver after retiring from the United States Air Force after serving as an aid to the Inspector General in Washington D.C. After completing barber college in Baltimore, he was first hired by Whitney Armelin, who had cut his hair at another shop when McGee attended Denver East High School. McGee eventually was able to acquire New Look Barbers from Armelin. He keeps a farmer’s wagon scale in his shop as a reminder of his father’s philosophy of keeping everyone honest. As the proprietor, he expects his customers to respect his business and each other. “We have to know who we are first,” says McGee. “Listen. Then if they have something to say, there is time for comment. Wait until I take my turn. Listen, share experiences and everybody wins,” he says. In addition to the farmer’s scale, McGee’s current space is adorned


with images of Black positivity— Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in embrace, a Buffalo Soldier and a poster of African American writers. He was at the 1963 March on Washington and counts King’s biographer and speechwriter, Dr. Vincent Harding, amongst his customers and friends. Moderating the conversation in the shop is perhaps the biggest challenge for an African American barbershop proprietor. As Denver’s Black population moved out away from Five Points, numerous barbershops were established in Park Hill. Frequently, it is the history or memory of the barbershop that inspires others to establish their own. Raymond Bo Melons, of the House of Hair Style Shop completed his coursework at the Colorado Barber College in 1969, on Larimer Street, where he recalls practicing on the indigent who would come in, on what was then skid row. His inspiration to become a barber started with Arthur Price, a barbershop owner who cut his hair in Colorado Springs. Melons’ family migrated from Arkansas, and he recalls being intrigued by the conversations that caught his attention. Melons observed Price’s family was well to do, with a nice house and he was well respected in the community. The Palmer High School graduate wanted that same respect. After barber school, he briefly worked for Frank Stiger and two to three other barbers as he built up his clientele. Melons opened House of Hair Style Shop in 1974 at 33rd and Holly. Two years into the venture, he started doubting himself, and after a conversation with one of his customers, a Denver Fire Chief, he filled out a civil service application to join the fire department. That day upon returning to the shop, opening the door, he realized that he was selling himself short and that two years wasn’t enough. “I wanted to be a barber to work for myself,” says Melons. “I told myself ‘you are going to do every-

thing in your power, everything that is in you to make this business go, to make it work.’ My fears went out the door and I never looked back.” Determined not to be weak in his business, House of Hair survived on Holly Street for 14, often-turbulent years, before moving to 22nd and Kearney where the business was located for 29 years. Melons’ shop moved again in mid-January this year to the present location of 28th Ave. Melons is intensely proud of his profession and what it provides. In 2000, he received an impromptu award, Outstanding Barber of the Millennium from four of his customers – W. Harold “Sunny” Flowers, Jr., Gary Monroe Jackson, Garrett K. Kemp Tatum, and Edward Chuck Williams. The plaque read: “Those Who Admire and Depend on Him.” About barber shops, Melons says, “It’s a place where you can go in feeling bad and come out feeling good. It’s needed and can be a healing place. I’ve seen so many men out of work, ill, on hard times or in trouble with their marriage. But for some reason they come in get a haircut and a bit of conversation, and they get relief from things. You get cleaned up and look better, there’s not a better feeling. The barbershop offers so much more than a haircut.” One of the customers, who gave Melons his award, is attorney, and recently appointed Denver county court judge, Gary Jackson. Melons first started cutting Jackson’s hair when he was a DU law student. Melons message to the young men who come and sit in the barber chair: “Look around, who is sitting next to you, across from you; what you can become and make of your life. So many people worked hard. Hear it in their conversation. Take positives away from the negatives. See how successful Black men can be. There are a lot of successful Black men that come through that door. There is always a positive figure, and it is not easy getting where they are.” 

“A special thank you to all of my patrons of the past and present. I am committed to keep all of you in my memory forever. Our association has been a wonderful journey and a truly meaningful experience of a lifetime. Thank you for this extraordinary relationship.

–Dee C. McGee

New Look Barbers 2825 Welton St. Denver, CO 80205 303-295-9192

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2014

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[|áàÉÜ|vtÄ f|zÇ|y|vtÇvx by Uxtâàç ftÄÉÇá By Charles Emmons Editor’s Note: This articles wraps up a twopart series by Denver Urban Spectrum contributing writer Charles Emmons on the history and importance of barbershops and salons in the African American community. The first article, “More Than a Haircut,” ran in the February 2014 issue and focuses on barbershops.

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The Madam C. J. Walker Effect

irls have memories of sitting

on the floor, at home, in front of a chair while their mother or older sister combs or braids their hair. The experience may be painful, but at its roots, it is also nurturing. From an early age, we learn that appearance matters. It matters from the time when we go to school so we aren’t bullied by other children, to when it is time to apply for a job. Standards and conformity have been drummed into African Americans throughout our history. Since our ancestors were forcibly brought here, we have been conflicted about what is beauty and ugliness. Standards of beauty have been dictated to us and whether these have been embraced or not, this conflict is deeply rooted in our culture. For girls and women this has frequently been based upon their hair. Some women have opted to do their own hair or have a friend or relative take up the task, but for others they leave it in the hands of a professional. For those seeking true transformation, it is always better to seek professional help, and this adage applies to hair care. “If I change an ugly duckling into a pretty black swan then I’ll have a client forever,” says Carrie McElroy, owner of Hair Reasons, a beauty shop on 28th and Madison. McElroy earned her license three years after graduating from Denver Manual High School in 1965. She loves the beauty industry, and first opened Hair Reasons on 14th and Poplar. She also plied her skills in shops in Houston and in retail stores like Joslins and Sears. “When a woman sees beauty on the outside, she feels beautiful on the inside,” she says. McElroy is one of four beauty industry professionals that share their story in this article. Combined, these women have more than 100 years behind the chair, doing their part in shaping the esteem of Black women

Top: Karen Hall (left) and Judy Bunton (right); Bottom: Rosalyn Redwine (left) and Carrie McElroy (right) through not only changing hair styles, but also hair care, skin care, conversation and a bit of counseling and advice. “I want you to feel good about the way you look,” says Judy Bunton, another beauty industry professional and owner of Options Hair Design located at 1472 Jersey. She says that a new hairstyle can change women a lot, and that if you enhance yourself, you’ll feel better. Ever since Sarah Breedlove picked up a hot comb and curling iron and sold her line of hair care products across the country in the early 20th century, the image of African American women has been transformed. In Denver, she met and married C.J. Walker and adopted his name as her brand. She eventually moved the business to Indiana; the product line made her the first American female millionaire, with estimated sales of $3M. The press and curl style which she popularized through teaching stylists and sales agents in many ways became a staple for black women. This is the technique stylists learned up

until the late 1960s, when natural hairstyles emerged as an alternative. Many beauty industry professionals as young girls witnessed the press and curl techniques in the shops their mothers patronized and were inspired to get in the business themselves. Like McElroy, Karen Hall, owner and operator of the Cuttin’ Up Salon and Beauty Academy located at 8101 E. Colfax (Colfax and Ulster) has always been interested in doing hair. She related the story of being in middle school on picture day. She would do everyone’s hair in the bathroom — everyone but hers. McElroy has taken to wearing hats and not exposing her hair. Rosalyn Redwine, owner of Winning Coiffures, 6115 E. Colfax (Colfax and Kearney), is adamant about taking care of her clients, but admits she doesn’t take time to take care of her own hair. This may all seem a bit odd at first, but McElroy, Hall and Redwine are all intensely and unselfishly committed to what they view as their calling.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2014

Hall has been in the business for more than 30 years. She first opened Cuttin’ Up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and then moved to a salon in Montbello where she opened her school in a 700 sq. ft. space. The Carson, California native began her career in Beverly Hills as an assistant, where she remembers clients like Patrice Rushen and Evelyn Champagne King. She moved into the current location on Colfax and Ulster in 1996. Hall’s siblings all attended college, and although she also attended college one-and-a-half years she found it was not for her, so she went to Flavio Beauty College, that has been featured on the Bravo reality series, Tabatha Takes Over. Walker was her inspiration. Knowledge, built through experience, reading books, and talking to people guides her. Hall believed it was important to start a school that specifically taught students to care for black hair. Hall is proud that Cuttin’ Up is the only accredited black hair beauty school in Colorado. The accreditation by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) was Hall’s major business challenge. With it, Hall could offer federal financial assistance for her students. Over 80 percent of her students were living below the poverty level. She made the financial investment and the time investment of two years to attain the NACCAS accreditation, which Cuttin’ Up received in 2005. The maximum enrollment has been 84 students in the 10-12 month programs. At one time, she ran classes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Her school has a 100 percent job placement rate, 60 percent completion rate and 50 percent license rate. Hall believes she is doing her small part to help stylists be professional and boost the economy and help the community. But recently, she ran up against an audit technicality and a high percentage student loan default rate. She is now down to five students. The school is too small to operate with NACCAS accreditation and the associated federal assistance. She plans to operate Cuttin’ Up as a salon and day spa with her two daughters Chanele and Tiffany running the business. Her mortgage on the building was paid off in 2012. She is stepping back to try a real estate career, but finds it hard to totally leave the industry. Continued on page 8


Beauty Salons Continued from page 7 Judy Bunton just moved her shop after nearly 25 years on the same location on East Colfax and Quebec. The Denver East High graduate (1973), braided hair at home and decided to become licensed. After working in salons, she moved away from the braiding and the beads and used her creativity with other styles. She worked at Haliburton’s on 22nd and Clarkson for five years and eventually landed at Noir Madames. Bunton bought Noir Madames in 1989 and subsequently changed the name to Options. Rosalyn Redwine, owner of Winning Coiffures sees longevity as an asset. Another Denver Manual High School graduate (1976), she became interested in cosmetology watching her mother’s beautician. “I loved to sit and watch,” says Redwine. “Her creativity intrigued me.” Her first job was with Connie Cobb’s salon where she learned more about hair care and transformation with color, conditioning and treating hair properly. Redwine, with 23 years in the business, agrees with the adage that when you look better, you feel better, and she has continued to educate herself about beauty transformation by traveling to hair shows and classes in other cities.

The Chair, Conversations and Transformation Their longevity is a testament to love and commitment to the profession, skill, talent, and savvy business acumen. But there are also intangibles that make people successful. The metaphor of the makeover has been popularized on television. But women in the beauty industry have always known that sitting in their chair has always been about your transformation and renewal. “She isn’t supposed to go out like she came in,” says McElroy. To a large degree, this is an intimately spiritual experience, and a profession that allows them to minister to the needs of their clients, whatever those may be. We might surmise that this is what made Walker so successful. She met a need. Early 20th century Black women needed to transform themselves and to begin to feel good about themselves as they made their way in the world striving for acceptance. The press and curl style provided a new view of themselves. The styles, methods, and materials vary widely today. And women have many choices that play a part in the individual realization of their self-esteem. Walker used her wealth to support the civil rights movement and female demonstrators in the south sought refuge in a beauty shop after having

food dumped on their heads at lunch counters. There is always a need for renewal. McElroy has done hair in Denver Children’s’ Home and Ridge Home, and Redwine collaborated with Shiloh Baptist Church to do the hair of women in a battered women’s shelter. Recognizing that early intervention is important before such crisis points, Hall started a free twice-yearly program, ‘Teen Self-Esteem’, at Cuttin’ Up for young women, aged 10-13, where she and consultants talk and teach them about hair care, skin care, diet, boys, and the other significant elements of becoming successful beautiful Black women. Transformation is a give and take relationship. They never know what they will learn from the person in their chair. Bunton says that she is more of a listener than a talker, and that if she feels moved to speak, she will. “Take nuggets and put them in your life,” says McElroy. Hall says she has had conversations with numerous entrepreneurs in her chair who always encouraged her success. “You learn a lot from older women,” says Hall. “You hear everything, life lessons…it’s therapy for a lot of women. They come and vent. They share stories and life experiences. I could write a book.”

What’s next? McElroy plans to update her shop and perhaps become a black hair

trainer with the Glemby Corporation that runs hair salons in retail department stores. Look for Cuttin’ Up to become a salon and day spa in the future as Hall steps back and lets her daughters run the business for a while. After losing her daughter in 2011, Bunton is faced with raising five granddaughters, aged 6-14. “It’s like starting all over, but without God none of this would be possible,” says Bunton, who will make the salon more family oriented where women can be comfortable and bring children. Redwine plans to keep operating Winning Coiffures, working with her sister and brother. 

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The view west down 17th Street in

RTD Expansion and Changes Will Impact all of Denver By Charles Emmons

Denver metro area, and through downtown into the Five Points neighborhood, ridership and demand has grown. A year ago, an award-winning new line opened west through the Denver Federal Center, and the development and opening of Denver Union Station is a significant milestone for implementing commuter rail lines to Denver International Airport (DIA), which will serve employees as well as passengers. The east line to DIA is scheduled for completion in 2016, just two short

RTD General Manager and CEO Phillip A. Washington

2013

downtown Denver has changed. The longstanding landmark, Union Station, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art transportation center that will eventually accommodate passenger rail, commuter rail, light rail, commercial buses and RTD buses. The grand opening will be May 9, and many changes will affect RTD system riders, which peaked at 101 million boarding passengers in 2013. The RTD transit system is one of the larger systems in the country, and according to RTD General Manager and CEO Phillip A. Washington, the aim of RTD is to also be the best and safest transit agency in America. Most recently in 2008, three times RTD has been rated the best in North America. On track for more success, RTD was honored in 2012 by the White House’s “Transportation Innovators Champion of Change” for its regional Workforce Initiative Now (WIN) program. With 1,000 buses, 200 light rail vehicles, and the 101 million boarding passengers, its base system is large, but poised for an even larger expansion. Since the first light rail lines began servicing the southwest and southeast

years from now. There will be stops at 40th and Colorado Boulevard, 40th and Central Park Boulevard, and 40th and Airport Boulevard. The line currently ending at 30th and Downing streets will be extended to 38th Avenue to meet the new east line as it heads toward DIA. Rail stations will be within miles of Park Hill and Montbello. Convenience for passengers is a primary concern for Washington, the 2013-2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year in North America. He has been at the helm of RTD since 2009 and is determined to not just provide surface lots for these stops in northeast Denver, but to also make them pedestrian and customer friendly, more viable and vibrant. “We want to be the catalyst that attracts development,” said Washington. Transit-oriented communities have popped up around the metro area. The backside of Denver Union Station has been transformed; around it, housing and new developments are abundant. Transit oriented development (TOD) has also come to areas around light rail stations in the southeast and southwest metro areas. By making these stops a destination, perhaps with the inclusion of affordable housing,

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A Quick RTD Profile Rating: #1 transit agency by U.S. News and World Report Primary Contractor: Kiewit subcontracted 100 minority firms for the expansion of light rail system Service area population: 2.8 million Square miles in service area: 2,340 Annual regular fixed-route service miles operated: 45,246,715 (includes light rail) Park-n-Ride facilities: 74 Total number of fixed routes: 137 open space and retail they become more attractive. He contends that smartly developed transit can reinvigorate communities of color. Washington firmly believes, “Light rail is a community builder and enhancer.” He says that TOD will help alleviate the stigma associated with public transit. There are numerous reasons driving these changes in Denver’s urban areas. The major force is population returning to the urban core. The population in Denver increased 11 percent between 2000 and 2010, and it is forecasted to increase 13 percent in 2014. There are 2.9 million people in the Denver metro area. In the country and the world, 80 percent of the population dwells in urban areas. All these people in our cities are stressing everything according to Washington. Upgrading and improving infrastructure makes good conversation in political circles, but beyond the talk, it is a necessity. Washington sees his position at RTD as right for continuing to facilitate this. He credits previous Denver mayoral administrations for their smart land use decisions. Federico Pena, Wellington Webb, John Hickenlooper and Michael B. Hancock have all had a hand in the development of the system. Washington believes it is appropriate for projects to span administrations with managers leveraging their strong suits. His predecessor was good at getting votes to build FasTracks. Washington comments, “I’m good at building stuff, someone coming behind me may be good at maintaining things.” Voters first approved the building of FasTracks in 2004. Ten years later Denver is on the cusp of having a system that reaches all four corners of the metro area and a line that goes from downtown to the airport. “The central question that must be answered by transit agencies is do you provide service where I need to go?” said Washington. RTD’s growth follows a national trend. The APTA released a

report in March finding that across the country in 2013 transit experienced the highest annual ridership numbers since 1956. Denver experienced a 14.9 percent increase. Denver Union Station is poised to see rider activity that it hasn’t seen since the late 1950s when it served more passengers than the old Stapleton Airport. The multi-modal transportation center will connect passengers through the Central Valley spur to Denver’s various sports venues and then out to other areas in the core city and suburbs. Light rail serves education centers like the University of Denver and the Auraria campus, and it serves employment centers outside of downtown like the Tech Center and the Denver Federal Center. Whether one goes to these destinations for work, pleasure or enrichment, there will be a way to get there on the RTD system. “The mobility discussion is so important,” said Washington. “Employers understand that their workforce has to come from places where housing is affordable.” Younger people and technology are driving these changes. The median age of Denver’s population is under 34, and the AAA Foundation completed a study finding that teenagers are waiting until they reach their twenties to obtain their driver’s licenses. If they are working or going to school how else will they get there? Public transit systems must respond with innovative solutions. These solutions continue to be implemented, with notable public-private partnerships financing the system expansion as a foundation. Reloadable smart cards are in use in a pilot program on the new west line. A number of mobile apps help riders with finding services and schedules to complete their trips. Denver Union Station will be a transportation hub with not only rail, but buses. A 1,000foot concourse with 22 gates will be available for arriving and departing buses on 16 different routes. Riders should be aware that the Market Street Station will officially close on May 11. Additionally, a free MetroRide will begin shuttling riders from Denver Union Station to Civic Center Station along 18th and 19th streets with limited stops. This will offer an alternative to the 16th Street Mall Shuttle. Construction on the east line from Arvada and Westminster to DIA and the I-225 line in Aurora are scheduled for completion in 2016. Where do you need to go? Check the RTD website for schedules and mobile apps to help you get there, http://www.rtd-denver.com. 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

Dr. Marybeth Gasman

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2014

“Diversity and inclusion in higher education: 150 years of learning, growth and hope.”

Dr. Ramona Beltrán

For more information visit: du.edu/cme


J

uneteenth is a significant cele-

bration in the African American community. And Denver has had one of the largest festivals on Welton Street

Finding Your Bones By Charles Emmons

in the heart of the Five Points community for many years. The importance of Blacks enslaved in Texas learning of their freedom three years after the Emancipation Proclamation is not lost. Our struggle for independence continues. Reconstruction provided limited opportunities for Blacks; Jim Crow laws in both the North and the South were an impediment to progress. We gained limited equality in education, employment and public accommodation, but it was nearly 100 years after slaves learned of their freedom that we gained civil rights and voting rights. In 2008, the first African American president was voted into office. Progress through a lot of pain, but are we really independent? For some, independence comes with financial freedom. Media moguls, entertainers, sports figures, and entrepreneurs are the most prominent examples of the accumulation of wealth. As a society, we are enamored with celebrity, but African Americans

Left to right: Official Guinea Representative Leonard “Len” Murray, Ambassador Secretary General of Guinea Gaoussou Toure and Moulaye Haidara, Guinea Ambassador to the Philippians

are significantly behind in wealth accumulation. Our brethren on the continent of Africa are in the same situation. African countries have thrown off colonialism, but centuries of resource depletion have not benefited them.

The struggle for economic freedom is the commonality between Africans and African Americans. Entrepreneur and businessman Leonard “Len” Murray sees African Americans as being more connected to Africa than disconnected. Murray is the president

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2014

of Diaspora Mining Company, and has been working in Africa for more than a decade. In the time spent there, he has built strong business and political relationships. Murray considers himself Afro-centric, low key and driven. He is also disturbed by a noticeable absence of African American businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa; especially with the availability of tremendous business and social opportunities. Murray recently gained status to allow him to facilitate tremendous opportunities in West Africa. He was appointed Economic Operator and Consultant for the Republic of Guinea. Ambassador Secretary General of Guinea Gaoussou Toure, signed and presented a Guinea diplomatic passport to Murray, along with representational citizenship. This passport allows Murray to travel throughout Africa, and other countries without need for visas, as an official representing Guinea Guinea is like many other African countries; much of the population has re-located to urban centers. “Just imagine being in any city or country where 99 percent of the population looks like you. The market is huge,” says Murray. “In every capital city there are, at least, one million Black people, but lack African American


businesses or consultants.” Murray believes business can be facilitated with Africans in anything from auto parts to construction to engineering and infrastructure development. “Africans want to work with African Americans,” says Murray, who has positioned himself to assist both African American and African businesses with entrepreneurs who have the desire to become international businesses. Mining and curiosity was his entree into Africa says Murray who has been warmly welcomed as an African American. Over the years, Murray has earned a reputation for being accountable and getting things done. Murray is closely associated with business people, and high level politicians in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali. Early on, he was mentored in African culture and the correct way of doing business on the continent. Murray says he needs to be accountable to Denver and expects to include businesses, institutions and the community in whatever he does. He also expects the community to follow his progress and hold him accountable. Murray talks freely about transporting his lessons learned, gaining local knowledge and skills and creating a business academy. Murray has had preliminary discussions about with the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver about an academy to facilitate African American business in Africa. “I want to help entrepreneurs further develop their international expertise, and ask them to “pay it forward” with other business people. If I help you, then you can help someone else.” “Needless to say, doing business in Africa is trying and somewhat frustrating due to cultural and language barriers. There is a preponderance of poor people who are more concerned about how they will eat today,” says Murray who feels in 10 years of doing business in various African countries, there are three people I trust explicitly and call my partners. “There are so many different business opportunities in every African country and a team is needed to exploit those openings. Doing business in Africa and in America is challenging and business people need mentors of whom I am viewed as.” Murray says a Texas pharmaceutical businessman he met in Guinea helped position him with the Guinea government. With only four state-run hospitals in the capital and three hospital beds available per 10,000 people in Guinea, much of the healthcare is administered through pharmacies. Together, they and the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce (CRCC) pro-

posed a network of clinics for remote villages and are developing a medical plan for the government. If you are to be successful in America, it is necessary to have technology, computers, internet and cell phones. Africans have limited access to technology but it is growing. But, technology is not the issue. The issue is accessing electricity. Murray says, “it’s normal to be without power for six to eight hours in any given day. What good is a computer if there’s no electricity?” Through the CRCC, Murray and his team have begun to work with Solar Electric Light Fund to provide off-grid power. Since Africa has an abundance of sunlight, plants and water; the plan is to develop, green technologies and hydroelectric alternatives. Business and political leaders, in Murray’s network, trust him like he is an African. He has enthusiastically taken the baton to facilitate improvements that will ultimately impact the economic well-being for Africa. By way of example, he says, “We are bringing international companies in to build water projects in Guinea. We’re starting with a $35 million project, which is the smallest of five planned projects. This project will bring thousands of people clean water, and we will show them how to maintain their own water plant. Other water projects and development projects amount to more than $1 billion. We’ll provide thousands of jobs, as we build, operate and transfer maintenance of various infrastructure projects,” he says. Murray’s diplomatic appointment is his starting point. With more than 35 years as an executive with various Fortune 500 companies, Murray is an accomplished businessman. He is leveraging his experience to bring international partners to Africa. He notes that Guinea is unique. “Guinea controls their own currency, development efforts and destiny. Guinea is a place to start and our goal is to move from one African country to another. It is time we hear good news coming from Africa instead of news about nefarious characters steeped in violence and corruption, which has dominated mainstream media“ The Central Bank of Guinea requested that Murray and his associates create a Resource Bank Refinery and Reserve. Guinea is rich in minerals like iron, ore, gold, diamonds and other precious minerals. It is ranked #1 for its reserves of bauxite (a mineral used to make aluminum). The Resource and Reserve Bank will manage Guinea’s mineral reserves, while building Guinea’s Central Banks cash reserves. This minimizes the need to borrow funds from the World Bank

and other outside sources. Guinea will eliminate their debt. “America has not promoted nor encouraged African trade relations. However, 50-plus African leaders will attend a summit hosted by President Barack Obama in August,” says Murray. “We are a mystery to Africans and the planned summit should help demystify who we are. Africans don’t know who we are. We, on the other hand, need to find our bones and ancestors too. We’re not there yet, but on our way. As we work toward African trade and business development, we should do little things first. Africans are predominantly French speaking, so we should learn French. Language and culture are minor barriers, which we can overcome” Economic development barriers require innovation and Murray is particularly adept at finding partners to implement better solutions and leverage expertise. His friend and primary partner is a Canadian/American, Ron Cooper, another Black man, who is facilitating infrastructure development funding sources. Murray also identified the CRCC as another strategic partner, whose board is structured to locate funding sources, approve and manage various projects and increase project integrity.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2014

Juneteenth symbolizes and celebrates prosperity and what is good in the African American community. Murray believes it is also important to recognize what is good in African countries. We have had prosperous Black communities in the U.S., the most well known is the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma which was burned to the ground in 1921. Murray believes it is time to reach out and leverage our knowledge and expertise to uplift Africa from Denver. African Americans have business acumen and Africans have unlimited natural resources. Together, the African Diaspora can become a formidable economic international force. We have to transport our knowledge and acumen to them,” says Murray. With his passion for inclusion, Murray hopes to create a means to create and sustain generational wealth for Blacks. “To get to the moon you must have a world class control center, just like the astronauts” says Murray. He considers African American and African trade relations as the trip to the moon. Murray, his partners and associates are the control center. Along the way, he encourages us all to “find our bones – our ancestors.”  Editor’s note: For more information about Diaspora Mining Company, email Len Murray at lmurray0003@yahoo.com.


Volume 28 Number 4

July 2014

Black and Brave: Buffalo Soldiers Leave A Trail of Courage...4 Nina Amos, founder and president of the Buffalo Soldiers Denver Chapter

Inside: Genocide and Slavery: Not on Colorado’s Watch...11 YouTube Sensation on thePlight of Black Boys...12 The Real Deal on Hemp...14


BUFFALO SOLDIERS

Fort Garland

Celebrate 148th Anniversary Reunion In Colorado By Charles Emmons Photos courtesy of Nina Amos

Summertime is here in full swing. It is a time for reunions and family gatherings where stories from the past are spoken and handed down to those who hold our future. Listening, reflection and empathy are essential to the experience. From family we learn of legacies and values, and what it takes to be valid and successful in a sometimes hostile world. But family need not only be our blood relatives. Anyone who advances our common interests can be our family, and that family can have reunions too. The Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th (Horse) Calvary Association will host its 148th Reunion Conference in Denver at the Doubletree Hilton HotelStapleton North from July 20 to 27. Nina Amos, founder and president of the Denver chapter and secretary of the national association, is the grandaughter of Buffalo Soldier, Andrew Kelly. She says nearly 300 members devoted to the preservation of the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers will come to celebrate their history. There are 29 living Buffalo Soldiers, some nearing 90 years old or more. One of these soldiers is 98-yearold Trooper Turl Covington who resides in Denver. He is one of the cofounders of the association. In 1966 he met with four soldiers from the 9th and four soldiers from the 10th just to reminisce about their time in the service. The first reunion was in 1967. Today there are nearly 1,300 members in 40 chapters from coast to coast and one abroad in Germany. “We didn’t dream of this – 1,300 members,” says Covington. The aim of the association is continued growth. Amos, whose grandfather was a Buffalo Soldier, continues her involvement because many in the Black community don’t know the story of the Buffalo Soldiers and their role in the history of this country. The

Adam Hudson Buffalo Soldier

New Generation - Jr. Buffalo Soldiers

theme of the July conference is ‘A Glorious Past…Blazing a Brilliant Future.’ Amos says the Denver chapter is unique, because there is a youth component. “We want to let our young people know about the history and legacy and contributions of these American military heroes. We have to continue to tell the story and build upon it,” she says.

The Story Buffalo Soldiers were soldiers who served in the segregated ‘all colored’ units, under the command of white officers in the U.S. Army from 18661944. The regiments of the 9th and 10th Calvary were created in the regular army for Black troops by an act of Congress in 1866. Most of these soldiers served in the 9th and 10th Calvary and the 24th and 25th Infantry, which served in various capacities during the so-called Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, World War I and World War II. To understand the importance of these units in history, the context of their time must be examined. The 9th and 10th Calvary was ‘mustered,’ put into service just after the Civil War ended. The 10th assembled regiments at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the 9th at Greenville, Louisiana. African Americans proved their mettle in the Civil War, our bloodiest war, in which there were 750,000 casualties. Records show 186,000 Blacks served and nearly 40,000 died in the cause for freedom. The 9th and the 10th were created because African Americans had proven ability and courage in fighting, but there was some reluctance on the part of white officers to lead. George

Armstrong Custer, the infamous general, was offered a position with the 10th, but he refused, opting for the 7th Calvary instead. With the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, ex-slaves had few employment opportunities, and many joined the military. The American military, historically, is a tool of government policy, and is primarily used to advance and protect its interests both domestically and internationally. The Union Army that included United States Colored Troops fought valiantly against the Confederate south. In the desire to keep slavery from spreading across the country, the war was an interruption to the westward expansion that had already begun, facilitated by the Indian Removal Act. After the Civil War, America had to get back to its agenda wrapped in Manifest Destiny. The 9th and 10th Calvary was dispatched to the West. In the West, their lives were difficult. The territories opening up to settlers, because of displacement of Native Americans were being inhabited by whites. Many of those on the frontier were confederates leaving the south. The Buffalo Soldiers’ service was sometimes marred by race riots and disagreements with both townspeople and other soldiers who found it hard to accept armed Black men, even if they were in the military. This was a complex and ugly time in our history, as Buffalo Soldiers became the policeman and protectors of the plain – called to escort settlers, protect Indians from other ‘hostile’ tribes and manage borders. Native Americans respected the 9th and 10th Calvary for their tenacious fighting ability, and it is said Buffalo Soldiers

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2008

were named such, because of this ability similar to the buffalo. Anecdotal evidence has shown that there was some reluctance to scalp Buffalo Soldiers. Association historian, Frank Bell, records that Buffalo Soldiers participated in numerous battles and skirmishes in the Indian Wars, but took no part in any massacre. The name ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ first appeared in a letter from a white officer’s wife to the Nation magazine. The media latched on to the term and it stuck throughout their proud history. As the move west continued, they guarded the railroads transportation routes and mail runs, protected ranchers from thieves, quelled violent labor disputes and built telegraph lines. They built barracks and forts for the other soldiers, while they still slept under the stars or in tents. Buffalo Soldiers also served as the early park rangers with the National Park Service. In conflicts from 1866 to the time they were de-activated in 1944 they fought ferociously and bravely in some of America’s most controversial conflicts, despite some who doubted not only their ability or bravery, but also their very presence. They fought in the Philippines and with President Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteer Rough Riders up the San Juan Hill in Cuba. They received some criticism in the Black community for participating in these conflicts, nevertheless Amos, is determined to not let the stories of these brave soldiers be forgotten, no matter how they served as a Buffalo Soldier.

Cathay Williams: A Woman of Honor The Real Cathay Williams

Part of the conference will spend a day in Trinidad, Colorado to place a Continued on page 6


Turl Covington: A Soldier Remembers By Charles Emmons Trooper Turl Covington

and the 9th landing in Casablanca where he was assigned to the Port Battalion unloading ships. He soon sailed to Sicily and then to Naples, Italy. Covington’s career in the military is a testament to the difficulty of being an effective soldier in a military that struggled with a culture rife with bigotry, which effectively de-valued the contributions of Black soldiers. Covington knows of two Black West Point graduates – Henry Ossian Flipper the first in 1877 and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. in 1932. Further research reveals two others, John Hanks Alexander (1887) and Charles Young (1889). But this is equally appalling.

All of these men were assigned to the 9th and 10th Calvary. Alexander died at an early age and Young was assigned to the 10th and was known for service in the National Parks Service where Buffalo Soldiers served as early park rangers. At the time of WWII, although many wanted to contribute to the war effort, the development of Black leaders in the ranks was challenging because of the culture. Covington’s personal story is telling.

In 1942, he had a chance to go into Officers Candidate School (OCS) in Abilene, Texas. There were 250 cadets and he was the only Black. Covington’s roommate had driven

N

ot all military men are Medal of Honor recipients, but Trooper Turl Covington is a true American hero of the unsung variety. The St. Louis native served in the U.S. Army until 1962. Covington attempted to join the 10th Calvary starting in 1937. “I hopped freight trains from St. Louis to Fort Leavenworth,” says Covington. Three years later, he was accepted. “At that time soldiers had to retire or die for you to get into the Calvary,” says the 98-year-old, who is one of the living Buffalos Soldiers to be honored with a special Buffalo Soldiers Medal of Honor at the Buffalo Soldier’s reunion to be held in Colorado July 20-27. Post-depression St. Louis held little opportunity for a young Black man. “Hard times. No jobs. No nothing,” was Covington’s response when asked why he joined the service. He said there were $3.50 dishwashing jobs. In the service, he could earn $21 per month; after four months in, he earned $30 per month. Covington eventually rose to the rank of private first class where he became a bugler. He sounded reveille at 6 a.m., and retreat at 11:30 p.m., and everything in between. This earned him $36 per month. When you included food and shelter, this was a good opportunity for anyone at the time. His time with the 10th until it was de-activated took him to other parts of the world. When the United States entered World War II, Covington says the 1st Calvary Division was white and the 2nd Calvary was ‘colored.’ The 1st was originally going to Europe but it was sent to Japan. In 1943, the 2nd Calvary was sent to the European Theater via North Africa with his unit being sent to Oran in North Africa, Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2014

down from Boston with his wife and offered to give him a ride to the barbershop in downtown Abilene to get his haircut. With his roommate’s wife riding in between them in the front seat of the car, a policeman whistled them to a stop, berating them, yelling according to Covington: “Don’t you know we don’t allow no N———ers to sit next to a white woman in Abilene, Texas?” His roommate and wife were shocked, but Covington got out of the car and walked to the barbershop. He rode the bus back to the base, but says white passengers taunted him, Continued on page 7


Atlanta Chapter

Buffalo Soldiers Continued from page 4 memorial marker in the Colorado History Museum in Trinidad for Cathay Williams, the only known female Buffalo soldier, and the first African American woman to enlist. Williams died in Trinidad in 1892. Amos says, “She enlisted as a man in 1866 and changed her name to William Cathay. Only her cousin and a friend knew.” She was honorably discharged two years later. Amos adds that Williams joined because she wanted to be independent and make her own way. It is telling about the opportunities available for Blacks in the late 19th century that a woman would join the military under false pretenses. Amos believes her story is important to know and as a woman to share how women have a role and a place in history is essential; her reasons of getting young people involved. These young

ambassadors have attended youth education summits where they pick a topic, research it and give presentations at events in the community including the senior home where Trooper Covington resides. The Buffalo Soldier Association Youth Honor Guard has been featured in The Denver Post and posted colors for the Colorado chapter of the National Democrating Party in 2013. Amos says that youth and adults are surprised by what they learn. “‘Wow! We didn’t even know that!’ is a frequent response, and it makes them want to know more. Which is what we are after.” Memorabilia will be on display and re-enactments will

Trooper Derrick Davis

be featured. “Re-enactors pick a subject like Henry Ossian Flipper, the first African American graduate from West Point, and create a story and re-enactment- visually showing about his life,” says Amos. “We also show Medal of Honor winners. We want people to see them.” Flipper was the first West Point graduate in 1877, and his road was difficult. He served as a second lieutenant with the 10th Calvary fighting in numerous frontier battles and building a drainage system around Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which mitigated diseases. He was subsequently transferred to a fort in Texas where a white officer accused him of misusing commissary

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funds. Flipper’s housekeeper was actually the culprit, and even though this was known, he was dishonorably discharged for conduct unbecoming of an officer. He spent his life trying to clear his name, dying in 1940 at the age of 84. A Georgia schoolteacher took up this cause of injustice, and the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records reviewed Flipper’s case and changed his discharge from dishonorable to honorable in 1976. Flipper’s story is just one of many as thousands of young Black men who tried to prove themselves in post-Civil War America. Progress was slow. Many of the ex-slaves recruited to join the 9th and 10th Calvary were illiterate. Chaplains had double duty in these regiments. Not only did they have spiritual responsibilities for the unit, but educational as well. The learning curve was steep. But the pay for a soldier, $13 per month, along Continued on page 7

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Buffalo Soldiers

Trooper Covington

Continued from page 6 with the food and shelter provided was one of the best opportunities available. There were other West Point graduates after Flipper, but up until 1932, you could count them on one hand. Media reports ingested as history have shown few examples of the contributions of Blacks in the military such as, Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna which focuses on the segregated 92nd Infantry in WWII . But little else has been put forth as positive examples of African Americans’ military service. Listening to Trooper Covington, it becomes apparent there were some dark and dismal moments in service to country outside the field of battle. Yet, every Black soldier today is standing on the shoulders of the likes of Henry Ossian Flipper and other lesser-known Buffalo Soldiers. A 10th Calvary unit named in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers is garrisoned at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. Remembering the Sacrifices Retired Gen. Colin Powell pays deference to Flipper in his autobiography where he writes, “We knew that the path through the underbrush of prejudice and discrimination had been cleared by the sacrifices of nameless Blacks who have gone before us, the Henry Flippers…and to them we owe everything.” Powell has been a speaker at the Buffalo Soldiers reunion as has the late General Daniel “Chappie” James. This year, another African American military leader, Col. Stacey T. Hawkins, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, will be a speaker along with former mayor of Denver, the Wellington E. Webb. The story of these brave soldiers who faced bigotry and prejudice in the service to the development and protection of their country hasn’t been given its due. Listening to Trooper Covington and his daughter, you realize that it has been all oral history, passed down through family, the kind that you usually experience at a reunion. Amos commented that her pastor always says, “We don’t know where we are going until we know where we have been.” Sometimes the stories are too painful or disturbing to tell, and have been hidden from past conversations. Nevertheless, the Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th (Horse) Calvary Association wants you to hear theirs.  Editor’s note: For more information about the Buffalo Soldiers reunion, visit http://www.dccbuffalosoldiers.org/ . To learn more about sponsor or vendor opportunities call Nina Amos at 720-785-0797, Henrianna Davis at 720-841-1845 or email dccbuffalosoldiers@gmail.com.

Continued from page 5 because he had an OCS patch on his chest. When he returned to the base, a private vehemently refused to serve him his meal, using a racial epithet.

A Message From the President A card from President Barack Obama and his family signed by the First Lady, Michelle Obama in 2013.

To Turl Movements for real and lasting change are sustained by the relationships we build with one another.

Thank you for your support.

Covington was on him in the next moment, beating him. He admits he was wrong. An officer called him in and told him, “Sergeant Covington you have to learn to take words like that.” Covington’s rank was busted to a buck sergeant, the lowest ranking sergeant, and sent back to his old unit. Covington was discharged in July 1945 at Camp Beale in California. He returned to Kansas, remaining in the reserves, while taking a civil service job. In November, he re-enlisted and was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In March of 1946, he was offered a chance to join the all Negro army of the Air Force Squadron. This took him to California and Hawaii. At Hickham Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, he faced another challenge of being one of the first. By that time, he had a young family, his wife Ruby and two young daughters Cheryl and Cynthia. He was one of the first African Americans to get quarters at Hickham. In the

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duplex like housing one neighbor, a master sergeant had two daughters, and he was okay with having a Black soldier living next to him. His other neighbor did not. The base supply sergeant suggested the dissatisfied neighbor move to off-base, more expensive housing. He stayed. “We had a banana tree between quarters,” recalls Covington. “I cut down the banana tree and shared it with him, and we became friends,” he adds with a chuckle. Was the culture evolving? Perhaps. Shortly afterwards, in 1948 the Army/Air Force was de-activated and became the Air Force, and the military was formally integrated by the order of President Harry Truman. More changes. No doubt, Trooper Covington has more stories to tell. By his service to his country in the 10th Calvary and other units, in a time when the military culture was often hostile because of his skin color, he performed a heroic act. By the time of the first reunion of 9th and 10th Calvary members in 1967, 100 years had passed since the historic act of congress when the two regiments of ‘colored’ troops were created. In the history of the Buffalo Soldiers more than 30 have been awarded the Medal of Honor, but all who served deserve recognition. 

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Principal Kafele Addresses Plight of Young Blacks Boys By Charles Emmons

“Greetings young men, this is Principle Kafele.” Baruti Kafele’s voice is heard round the world as young people and their parents tune into YouTube to hear his frequent inspiring messages aimed at motivating and impacting the success of young Black and brown men. From November 2013 to May 2014, he has posted no less than 130 video messages on YouTube in his series “Message to Your Son.” In the hotel, on an airplane, or at a roadside rest stop; wherever he may be, he stops, opens his laptop, records his message and uploads it to YouTube. But Kafele is so much more than a talking box on the Internet, and on Memorial Day weekend he brought his message to Manual High School. He visited Denver in response to an invitation from Phillip Douglas, founder of Challenging How Every Student Strategizes (C.H.E.S.S.) and John Bailey of the Colorado Black Roundtable and through the support of Denver Public Schools District Board Members Happy Haynes and Landri Taylor. They also received support from Denver Public Schools Manager of Legislative Affairs Gregory Hatcher as his appearance was in line with Hatcher’s commit-

Principal Baruti Kafele

ment to outreach and community engagement. There are many aspects to Kafele’s mission that address the “state of emergency and crisis level with our children.” When he speaks about kids getting fired up about themselves it is in the broadest sense of self-knowledge that will lead to the success of young Black males, and everyone is a potential partner from school administrators to parents. “Never doubt that the power is in your hand to make a difference in your own life, as well as to those in your community,” Kafele told the intimate, but powerful audience of professional educators and concerned community leaders. The author of “Closing the Attitude Gap” and “Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life” challenged the group to help young Black men answer the question, “Who am I?” He took a few bullets from his arsenal of presentations and narrowed the talk and discussion to these very basic, yet difficult questions, “Who am I? What’s my place? What am I supposed to be doing?” He also quoted from Carter G. Woodson’s book, “Mis-Education of the Negro, saying, “If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to

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worry about his action…” In the quote, he sees the root of the problem with young Black men who don’t know how to think for themselves. “If we can teach them how to think, then they can begin to answer the question ‘Why am I in this predicament in the first place?’ According to Kafele, “If I don’t know me, then I take the easy way out, and young men pledge loyalty to a $0.75 bandana, pledging more loyalty to the bandana than their own mother.” In Kafele’s view, there is no attachment to things of substance in many communities. Things of substance have lasting value, not fleeting. In the short selection of slides Kafele projected on a screen, he included Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx and obelisks. In another slide, he projected Black leaders –Douglass, Garvey, King, Robeson, Mandela, and Malcolm X. He also presented a slide that included heroes of the civil rights movement – the Little Rock Nine and the marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama. The final slide included book cover jackets – “Blacks in Science,” “Stolen Legacy,” “They Came Before Columbus,” “Before the Mayflower-A History of Black America,” and “Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery.” Kafele entitled the short visual program “ME,” and he pointed out that when a young person looks at himself in the mirror, he should see this collective of both struggle and achievement reflected, because he would have infused this collective history in his being and would understand his obligation and responsibility to it. His responsibility then becomes to continue to contribute to the collective through devising his own mission and vision. Armed with this type of knowledge, Kafele poses these rhetorical questions to young Black people: “How dare you turn your back on your education? How dare you show up late for class or not at all?” – given the struggle, sacrifice, progress and achievement of those who have come before them. This attainment of broad self-knowledge includes everyone in the community. Kafele points out that he never blames the students, because they have not been taught how to think about themselves. There must be buy ins by the schools, teachers, and administrators, as well as students and parents. Kafele says that all the talk about an achievement gap in urban schools is really an attitude gap. Students will not achieve if the very people responsible for growing their young minds disparage them. As Kafele travels the 40 states to which he has been invited to speak, he is often asked, “What is

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2014

wrong with these young Black men?” Kafele’s response is “nothing.” He is not only taking his mission and vision to students on YouTube, he also speaks to educators and administrators urging them be invested in this new vision for education. Kafele had success with this approach when he implemented “Manhood 101” on Mondays at one of his schools, Newark Tech. On ‘Power Mondays’ during the school day, students would come to school dressed in shirt, tie, slacks, shoes and a belt and Kafele would bring in guest speakers from the community, men who were breaking down the door to participate. Kafele wanted to “connect them to people who have already gotten it done.” Power Mondays were started with the youngest class of students, so by the time they were upper classmen and seniors they had mentored younger ones in this process as surrogate co-principals. The climate and the culture of the school were transformed. Kafele himself was transformed. He eventually finished school but was a 9th grade dropout. Before becoming an educator, he owned a bookstore in New Jersey, and had to practically give it away due to lack of business. His successor gave up the business as well. This was telling to Kafele, and this is why he encourages selfimprovement through gaining knowledge and reading books.

From the Top Ten-year-old Solomon was inspired by President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative announcement, and as a result asked his grandfather, Bailey, to start what would become the “Better Boys Project” at Steadman School. With the cooperation of the principal, Robert Malling, 13 Black male students gather on Wednesdays and Fridays to learn computer programming and chess. Douglas teaches the chess classes with the goal to facilitate “thinking for better decisions,” says Bailey. Douglas also teaches chess to students at Gilpin, Cole and Manual. On Kafele’s videos, which are shown in the chess classes, Douglas says, “His messages were powerful and not heard in Denver. The messages are that they have the power to make better decisions. The messages are about attitude.” Solomon, a student of these sessions, put his lessons into play by asking the organizers to bring Kafele to Denver. They did. During the event, Solomon introduced Kafele and presented him with a certificate of appreciation from the CBRT and the “Better Boys Project.”  Editor’s note: For more information about Kafele, visit www.principalkafele.com/.


Volume 28 Number 5

September 2014

Racing to Advance Our Future Colorado Black Round Table Sets Agenda for Much Needed Community Involvement‌4 Photo by Lorenzo Dawkins


Gaining Ground by Being Involved By Charles Emmons Colorado is a wonderful state and a beautiful place to live and raise a family… for most. Unfortunately, there are families that are not full participants in this idyllic vision. They are struggling to survive. The advances made in the Denver metro area for equality and a better life were hard fought by individuals who cared deeply about making a better living for their families. They knew in the end it would strengthen their communities. Blacks live all over the metro area now, but it was not always so. The right to buy and live in housing beyond York Street, then Colorado Boulevard and in Park Hill was hard fought. Equality in the Denver Public Schools (DPS) was fought for in the Keyes case that went before the Supreme Court. These battles, fought in the 60s and 70s, benefited the community and progressively opened the doors to opportunities. But in February 2013, a Rocky Mountain PBS I-News team presentation called “Losing Ground” was circulating throughout the city at numerous libraries. The presentation revealed the disparities in Colorado’s Black and Latino communities in the areas of education, economic development, health and wellness, and criminal justice. Dr. Sharon Bailey, director of policy and research for the Office of the Auditor for the City and County of Denver, happened to attend the presentation given at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library in the historic Five Points Business District. The data presented was unsettling to her as a community leader, policy maker and former DPS board member (1989-95). The report revealed, according to 2010 data, an 86 percent high school graduation rate for Black students in Colorado compared to 95 percent for whites, and that five percent of African American males were incarcerated. Bailey approached former Colorado lawmakers, Regis Groff and

Gloria Tanner says. “But we Dr.Sharon Bailey Regis Groff Gloria Tanner and the Colorado have not been able Black Roundtable, and they began to put that to use [in a way] that has holding monthly community meetings been productive for our community.” to reveal and discuss the findings. The first meeting was in March Reason for Desperation 2013, but as their audiences grew, they “When it comes to some of the most knew a larger conversation was neces- important measures of social progress – sary. The Losing Ground Summit was income, poverty, education and home held September 2013 at Manual High ownership —- the gaps between minorities School with 500 attendees. and whites in Colorado are worse now Government officials, political leaders than they were before the civil rights and members of the community conmovement.” vened to discuss what had happened Losing Ground Report (2013) to the progress made and what could Homeownership where many be done to get back on track. Americans count much of their wealth The conversation continues at the is just at 40 percent for African second summit being held this month on Sept. 27 at Manual High School. This Americans, a one percent increase over levels in 1960. While many were time the focus is related to the Losing victims of predatory lending and the Ground Rocky Mountain PBS- I-News Great Recession in 2008, Dr. Bailey Team report, “Gaining Ground in the and the group of leaders in their recBlack Community.” The community ommendations suggest financial literameeting is part of a summit weekend of cy be taught at all different levels in activities that have the support of leadthe community, including the schools. ing organizations in the African The time to be armed with this knowlAmerican community. edge is not when you are desperate. The CBRT Gaining Ground in the But the I-News report reveals that Black Community Summit Weekend there may be reason for desperation. is sponsored in conjunction with the The chances of developing a middle Colorado Black Women for Political class of professionals and leaders are Action, Greater Metro Denver significantly reduced with key memMinisterial Alliance, Colorado Black bers of the community unavailable. Leadership Caucus, NAACP, Urban For example, one out of 20 African League, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, American males was incarcerated in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and the Colorado in 2010. This high incarceraNational Council of Negro Women. tion rate is traced back to drug arrests, The discussion will revolve around which have had a tremendous impact the report authored by Dr. Bailey for on African American communities. the Colorado Black Roundtable after With any felony, it is difficult if not last year’s meeting. “We have the impossible to find work, vote and data; we’ve examined the issues now become productive citizens. what do we do about it. This is the So, what has been the response to gaining ground piece,” she says. these disparities? On the criminal jusA Princeton University graduate tice front Dr. Bailey says policy makwith a doctorate in public administraers are re-considering sentencing laws tion from the University of Colorado, Dr. Bailey believes that by marshalling for drug offenses. On the economic front representatives from the Small the collective brain power in the comBusiness Administration, City of munity that resolutions can be develDenver, RTD and the State of oped to address disparity issues. Colorado have come to the monthly “We know we have the skills, have community meetings held at the the knowledge and the talent,” she Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – September 2014

Hiawatha Davis Jr. Recreation Center to discuss minority-contracting opportunities. In the education arena, she reports there is a continuing dialogue with DPS about tracking achievement and engaging African American students in Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) education programs. Dr. Bailey says they have increased the two-way communication with DPS and also focused on tracking minority contracts with the district. The dialogue has produced a change in policies relative to minority contracting. “We even got specific with picky things like asking them to put Black faces on their marketing materials,” she says. Bailey’s Recommendations The report, prepared by Dr. Bailey made specific recommendations in disparity areas and focused on what churches and community organizations can do as well as individuals and leaders and elected officials. One of the recommendations under education is to increase the number of minority teachers and professors throughout all levels of education. For health and wellness, a recommendation is to talk to neighbors and organize a healthy living committee; create awareness of the health status of your community, coordinate outdoor activities, start a walking group and demand storeowners stock fresh produce. Under the criminal justice umbrella, she recommends create and strengthening collaborations between civic and faith-based organizations to increase the number of effective community-based after school and weekend youth life skills development. A recommendation under economic opportunity is to expand programs that provide financial literacy for community members of all ages, even making it a requirement for high school graduation. These daunting issues will require the collaboration of everyone and longterm sustainable solutions. Dr. Bailey says that the goal is to pull organizations together and to “network, communicate and collaborate in a manner that hasn’t been done before.” Continued on page 6


Gaining Ground Continued from page 4 Partnering With A Purpose She has the expectation that higher education and academia will play a larger role in continuing to uncover the problems in the community. She believes it is essential that researchers and administrators on each Colorado campus become acquainted, exchange contact information and that each one knows what the other is doing. Dr. Bailey would also like to see greater visibility of these academics in the community in evaluating problems. “The process of re-building and refocusing on these disparities is more effective. We don’t have to guess about them,” she says. She notes that the African American Policy Institute at the University of Denver, developed by Peter Groff, was certainly viable, and that there have been talks with DU about developing that resource again under the Colorado Black Round Table umbrella. With knowledge of who is on what campus, parents and students will have ready aids to contact as they navigate the education pipeline preparing for college and beyond. “Students shouldn’t get where they are going by accident,” says Dr. Bailey, whose passion is facilitating better engagement

and solutions to improve the educational pipeline from pre-school to graduate school. With school choice and standardized testing, educating your child has become much more complicated, leaving many African Americans left out, because they are not savvy in understanding how to make the best choices for their children. The Colorado Black Round Table is partnering with Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Urban League of Metropolitan on a STEM education program and a website clearinghouse for parents to better navigate the education system more proficiently. “Our students are capable and that is where our focus should shift. We are not losing ground. We are disconnected,” says Moses Brewer, interim president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan League. After years of working in the community, as a corporate executive in the beverage industry, and through the various iterations of Coors, he understands that collaboration is key. “You create and develop strategy based upon ‘what do we want to accomplish?’ ” Rocky Mountain PBS I-News films the summits and posts the videos online and Dr. Bailey says that the link has been sent out to about four to five

thousand people. This allows people to be engaged even when they are not present. Each member of the Colorado State Legislature has been given a copy and Dr. Bailey commented that it is often used by minority caucuses in shaping arguments and proposing legislation. The recent shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri is an indicator that much work is required to keep African American communities from being marginalized. This requires the effort of the broader community as well. In the last session of the summit on Saturday political candidates for office from both parties have been invited to address one question…”How will you use your office and influence to assist the Black community in the disparity areas?” Dr. Bailey says, “The torch is going to need to be passed. Young people are eager for something to do, and we can give that to them as well as learn from them. This cannot be the old folk sitting around talking about the past and wishing for a better future.” However, she recognizes that past leaders have played an integral role in bringing us to where we are, and this should not be lost. “We have not been able to use the brain power of the folks at our disposal, the wisdom of

those who have already put in the time…the Webbs, the Groffs, the Tanners.” Summit Schedule On Friday a reception will be held to honor all former and current Colorado legislators, with a special salute to former state Senator, the Honorable Regis F. Groff. On Saturday at 9 a.m., the summit begins with a discussion about race in the 21st century, followed by a discussion of educating Black students and strengthening the educational pipeline. After the lunch break, the summit sponsors will be recognized and community service awards will be given to Lu Vason, Syl Morgan-Smith, Wallace Yvonne Toilette, and Norman Harris, Jr. In the afternoon, workgroups will convene to address each of the four disparity areas — education, criminal justice, health, and economic development. The I-News Team will provide a Losing Ground update also later in the afternoon. The Summit community meeting will adjourn at 6 pm. “There is plenty of work to be done,” Dr. Bailey says. “This is the building capacity piece, and we want the workgroups to develop a direction, collaborating and working beyond the summit. 

We are working hard to keep our promises to you. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Re Elect Working to Connect OUR Diverse Communities in District 9 Former Mayor Wellington Webb Says “Three years ago, I endorsed a young man who I thought would bring new young leadership and compassion to the most diverse district in the city. He has undertaken the tough issues and not ducked any controversial topics. He has brought new development and sense of community to the entire district with residents feeling that everyone counts. I am proud of the job he is doing as our councilman.”

AlbusBrooksforDenver.org Facebook/CouncilmanAlbusBrooks Twitter@AlbusBrooksD8 Paid for by Albus Brooks for Denver.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – September 2014

Sponsored & Co-Sponsored Numerous Events in Northeast Denver D Celena Hollis Memorial D Annual King M. Trimble., Esq. Tea & Roses Senior Social D Annual Hiawatha Davis Jr. Senior Luncheon D Safe Summer Safe Holly Park Hill Festival D Imagin8 Neighborhood Tour: My office embarked on a strategic visioning tour, bringing every neighborhood together to share ideas about challenges and opportunities in our district.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT D Established Welton in Five Points as an Urban Renewal Area D Partnered with the Office of Economic Development (OED) for the Welton Street Design Challenge D Changed the name from Welton Street Cultural Historic District to the Five Points Historic Cultural District (Official in the fall of 2014) D Future development of the Central Denver Recreation Center D Grocery stores working to eliminate the food deserts in NE Denver: Sprouts Farmers Market, Colfax & Garfield, and Walgreens, 35th & Colorado Blvd.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT D Partnered with OED to provide intensive training to over 70 young men & women of color who live in District 8 and have been involved in the justice system. D Upon completing the training, the young adults attended a job fair. Over 40 employers participated: 550 job opportunities were available.


Volume 28 Number 7 October 2014

Former Mayor Sheds Light on Political Climate Wellington E. Webb Talks About The Black Vote, Midterm Elections and Why He’s Proud of President Barack Obama...4

Photo by Lorenzo Dawkins


Editor’s note: Former Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb is a ‘sensei’ to mayors today. Not yet ready to retire, he runs a business and political consulting practice, Webb Group International. His 28th floor office at 1660 Lincoln in Denver’s financial district looks out over the capitol dome to the south to Pikes Peak. Everyday Webb sees the vibrant city he helped to develop. In this article, he weighs in on the political climate in Colorado. Photos by Lorenzo Dawkins

A Conversation with Wellington E. Webb By Charles Emmons

The country is facing another milestone in 2014 as the first nonwhite President of the United States, Barack Obama, winds down his second term. In 2008, we were enthusiastic and elated to contribute to his win. In 2012, we turned out again for his re-election because we believed in his principles. In 2014, Obama is not running but this election should be no less significant than others. In the end, you vote for the candidate that holds values that are important to you.

Changing Colorado Politics In Colorado, we have tight races for governor, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. With no candidates having 50 percent in preelection polls, it will be a toss-up. The non-affiliated and independents will decide. “Colorado was primarily a Republican state when I started out in politics in the 70s, and I’ve lived to see it change from red to purple and then to blue,” said Wellington Webb, who served 12 years or three terms as the mayor of Denver. “And I think this upcoming election will determine whether Colorado is purple or blue.” Webb is the sage of Colorado politics, having served in the state house and elected as Denver’s first Black mayor in 1991. He understands the ebb and flow of state’s politics that

elected two Black lieutenant governors, George Brown (D) and the late Joe Rogers (R). We also have had a Black speaker of the House, Terrence Carroll and Black president of the State Senate, Peter Groff. “Colorado, because of its western ethic has been open to a lot of history that has been accomplished here that is beyond what people in other parts of the country can ever imagine,” said Webb, the only mayor in the U.S. to be elected by his peers to be president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Conference of Black Mayors and the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. “If these candidates won, it was because they were good candidates who could be successful. But we also see that we’ve had a climate that has allowed those candidates to win,” said Webb. “But you could have every Black person vote for you – retired, living or dead – and you still would not have enough votes to win. Which means that obviously there were coalition politics involved; which means that Black, White, Brown, Red and Yellow were voting for the African American candidates for the offices they have been successful in achieving.”

The Obama Effect Despite this progress, and now the “Historic 5” Black legislators serving in the State House of Representatives

running for re-election, Webb has seen a backlash primarily against President Obama, but it has a ripple effect. Webb has empathy for the president, himself being a first. “Which is normal for anyone that’s first. All of us who have been first have experienced it,” said Webb, the first African American mayor of Denver. “As the first president of the United States who doesn’t happen to be white, I believe he has experienced more opposition; more lack of respect for the office he holds; more individuals demonstrating outrageous behavior against the protocol and decorum of the U.S. Senate and the House with people calling out, shouting and calling him a liar, which has never been done before.” President Obama has led the country through the worst recession on the road to economic recovery, and foreign affairs and international issues have been challenging. “It kind of goes back to that old joke, which mostly only old people remember…when the government is messed up at its worst is normally when we get the call to go in and fix it,” said Webb. “And that doesn’t just hold true for government. And when you add the high expectations that members of your own community have for you…which you can never meet, he has had a more difficult road.” Friend and foe scrutinize President Obama’s every action or decision, and

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2014

GOP ads are rife with guilt by association. Yet, the president seems undaunted, and Webb sees him as a heroic figure. “The more they beat up on him the prouder I get, because I see him stand up and never flinch, never stoop to the level of the people who are attacking him, and he does it with intellect, and he does it with dignity and he does it with grace,” said the Kappa Alpha Psi and Delta Eta Boule fraternity member.

Voting: Know Where You Are In the shadow of this backlash, what is the impact on Colorado elections and politics? Colorado’s voter demographics have changed. Besides turning to a blue state in the last election cycle, Independents are now the majority party according to Webb. There are more independent and unaffiliated voters than registered Democrats or Republicans. Presidential elections entail more money and resources, which leads to higher voter turnout. “We are going into 2014, the mid-term elections, and for whatever reason, a lot of the people who vote in the presidential election don’t vote in the mid-terms,” said the businessman and philanthropist. “This makes many of the individuals running who come from marginal districts much more vulnerable. And the individuals that tend not to vote in mid-term elections are typically young people, minorities,


specifically minority men.” He noted that historically women have been the most consistent voters. As minority populations broaden across the Denver metro area, it is increasingly important to know and vote for the candidate and to determine if they are in accord with your values. According to Webb the largest Black population is no longer in Denver, but in Arapahoe County, and the fastest growing Black population is in Douglas County. All government, no matter what level addresses economic development and children’s education as well as the requisite safety needs. But Webb points out that not all districts have the same focus or the same needs. “Some districts are going to be poorer than others,” said Webb, who created the Denver Health Authority to save the city’s public hospital. “In those poorer districts you are going to be looking at how do we access more job development for the individuals in the district?’ If you happen to represent an area where there’s a significant disparity in income, you are going to find those individuals are multi-colored. But if it’s a true democracy, the people that are elected to the district will be talking about income equality, because the makeup of that district is Black, White and Brown.” It becomes as much about class as race. On the other hand someone elected to a district that has a higher income, has a different horizon. “If you are living in a district where there is much higher income and many of those individuals own businesses themselves, they are looking for more business opportunities,” he said. So, in this case more emphasis might be placed on business development as opposed to individual income development. There are numerous ways to vote your interests and Webb says we have to smartly read through the political ads and the “entertainers” on television. “All politics is local to the person that is trying to determine how it effects them,” said Webb, an advocate for arts and culture, sports and historic preservation. “I think the war with ISIL is not local, but if they develop and send bombs that kill Black, White and Brown citizens, then it becomes local, but it’s also international.” Local governments will have issues that are much closer to the people. Mayor Hancock will deal with issues of development, parks and bike trails and jobs. There will always be ancillary relationships with other levels of government to get things done in our communities. “One of the goals has always been to make sure that we have enough emphasis on the politics of the day that we can get younger people

engaged that can run for office and represent our interests, because we can’t have just one person doing that. We have to have a variety of individuals that can do that. And that is what is so good about many of the people running,” said Webb. “For the Black community, political empowerment has to be about having people in place on the local government, state government, the federal government, in the judiciary where we are completely integrated into American society,” said Webb. “And then the second obligation – one that is assumed – is that issues that affect the Black community specifically, that these issues would

always be raised, because there are still so many of those continued (income) discrepancies.” Colorado is perhaps fortunate that we have Black leaders in government and the judiciary. It makes incidents in Sanford, Fla. and Ferguson, Mo. somewhat less fathomable here. Regarding whether Ferguson could happen here Webb responded, “I will never say never, but I think it will be difficult. Because it is too difficult here not to have a jury of your peers. With Ferguson it is much clearer. It is like the world passed Ferguson. It is exactly like a lot of the small towns in the south in the 1950s. The mayor said

there are no racial issues in Ferguson. There is a majority Black population, but there are no Blacks on city council, no Blacks on the police force. They’re not integrated anywhere into the government of Ferguson.” We might feel relieved because our government in Colorado is diverse up to the highest leadership levels. How to sustain this progress? By voting in every election. “Bad elected officials are normally elected by people who didn’t vote. “It’s always been my view if you didn’t vote, you brought this on yourself, so don’t complain to me. We live in a participatory process.” Continued on page 6

ON EXHIBIT Now through January 4

A Project of American Anthropological Association

This September, the History Colorado Center is proud to present the exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? Developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota, RACE LV WKH ¿UVW QDWLRQDO exhibition to tell the stories of race from the biological, cultural and historical points of view. Combining these perspectives offers an unprecedented look at race and racism in the United States. »

How to Talk to Your Kids About Race: Adoptive Families | Saturday, November 1

»

FWD Series: Part Two: Economics of RACE/ The Health of RACE (Racial Disparities) | Tuesday, November 11

Learn more about our programs and events at

HistoryColoradoCenter.org

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2014


A Conversation with Webb Continued from page 5

Getting Your Vote: Nothing Beats a Good Ground Game

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Election Day is November 4, but mail-in ballots will be going out to active voters in mid-October. Last legislative session Colorado made it easier to vote. You can now register and vote on the same day. No doubt, you have received mailers, door hangers, a knock on the door by a canvasser, or had a conversation with your neighbor urging your voter participation. Women are featured in many television ads along with their issues related to family and abortion. Political communicators are very good at their jobs, but if you don’t see yourself in those ads, there is a reason. Webb said, “Before it even starts there is 40 percent for this guy and 40 percent for this guy. The fight is always for the 20 percent. An ad might be run that looks stupid. That ad is for the 20 percent. It’s not for the 40 percent. It’s specifically targeted to the same group we are trying persuade to vote our way. At the end of the day, the ads run by Republicans and the ads run by Democrats are both going to be very good and they are going to cancel each other out. The person who gets elected is who has the most passionate workers and supporters on the ground. It’s those individuals who go talk to their neighbors. I am a ground game guy. That’s what I believe wins politics and it was reinforced in 1991 and 1995.” In essence, this really has not changed, but there are different mechanisms and technologies being used. There are numerous conversations happening besides face-to face, on Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and through targeted emails. President Obama engaged with young people in cities and on campuses who helped to elect him. The buzz was created through social media, which was an evolved ground game. Every Colorado candidate has a Twitter account where you can see activities and accomplishments. “You’ve got to have people on the ground telling your story, because no one person running for office can do that themselves,” he said. A good ground game requires commitment from the players. Even though Colorado has more Independents than registered Democrats and Republicans, Webb does not see this as totally positive. He often refers to conversations he has with his grandsons and their peers in looking at the current mindset of young voters, some wanting to remain Independents. “That is an interesting position to be in, because you are get-

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2014

ting the best of both worlds without being aligned with any party. And you end up voting for the individual or your choice depending upon who is put forth. But the problem with that is that you have no opportunity to help select the candidate that is then put forth,” said Webb. The caucus and primary process requires commitment from both Democrats and Republicans. “I would rather see you as a Democrat or Republican. This person represents my views and this is who I want to see running and then let them go up against the other team,” said Webb, who marvels that his grandsons could get 800 people to a party through social media in the last election cycle. “The buzz at the party was to vote for Obama. I don’t know why they were voting for Obama, but they were voting for Obama, because that was the cool thing to do. And many knew exactly why they were voting for Obama and trying to get their peers to vote as well,” said Webb. He added that the party was integrated and that his grandson’s generation is not so color conscious. “Now I am thinking how do I get them to get more political in addition to going to the party.” Webb has been political since he was his grandsons’ age. In his office, the walls are lined with memories and awards. He shared a picture from his days at the University of Colorado, with four young Black men, which included former Denver district attorney, Norm Early. “We were beginning to make our mark,” he said. Webb has long been a fighter for Democratic principles, like Social Security and health insurance. “For me it is easy. The values I hold dear are the values that Democrats fight for. I support some of these younger candidates from the Historic 5, because I believe we’re better off with them fighting for us because they represent our values.” Values and coalition politics still rule the day in Colorado. As the demographics change across the state, it becomes more difficult to get our voices heard. We must align ourselves with those candidates who share our views. Webb commented that the counties in Colorado where Cory Gardner is running the strongest are the 10 counties that wanted to secede from the state. Secession was a 19th century issue with southern states, and this is 2014. “If this was 1861 I couldn’t support someone that didn’t know whether they wanted to keep the state or country unified,” said Webb. “It goes against my values, one unified state, one unified country, and I am proud to be an American.” What do Americans do? They vote. Please exercise your right. 


Duane Taylor,

I

t’s resolution time. Get off the

couch! Usually the New Year is a time

Saved For The Next Level By Charles Emmons Photos by Lorenzo Dawkins

Entertainment. He told me he has close to 8,000 connections online. Since moving to Denver from Atlanta to manage the call center for the security company ADT, he has been living the dream, sometimes by choice, other times having to adapt. Two years after his relocation, the company downsized and he lost his job, and it was then that he started Duane Taylor Entertainment, a successful promotions company. He subsequently started a business as a corporate recruiter. “Who is Duane Taylor? From a professional standpoint, I am a corporate employment recruiter by day, a professional event planner by night and a dynamic motivational speaker by nature,” he says.

of reflection. More often than not we focus on what we could have done better, and what we are going to do about it in the coming year. We resolve to make our lives better. Resolutions are goals for our immediate future. We use them as guideposts to move us along as we progress throughout the year. As we go along, we are happy when we reach a goal, and perhaps indifferent when we do not. But 2014 woke us up. The tragic shootings in Ferguson, New York and Cleveland were a stark reminder that life is precious and can be snatched away at any moment. For most, there are no second chances. When they come along, we must maximize them to the fullest. Duane Taylor believes in second chances. Just over a year ago on New Year’s Eve, Taylor went to a doctor’s office and was told he would be able to lighten his burden, and no longer needed the wound vac medical apparatus that had been keeping him alive. It was the best New Year’s present he could have imagined, and from that point forward he resolved to live and to help others live. Taylor is well known in the community, mostly for Duane Taylor

He became aware of his God-given gifts and talents 20 years ago, but it took a life-changing event to urge him into full commitment to use them. Despite his success, his lifestyle was not perfect as he struggled with obesity even as a child. After deciding to have elective bariatric surgery and changing his nutrition and mindset, Taylor has shed 193 pounds in the past 15 months. Growing up in

Philadelphia as an only child, he was the fat kid who was teased and picked on, as well as the focal point of his parents’ love. “I think that contributed to my obesity as well,” says Taylor. His father would pick him up at the bus stop and they would go to the corner drugstore for what Taylor referred to as one junk, a candy bar or potato chips. “And of course, me being an only child and being the focal point of my parents’ love, sometimes that one junk became two junks, because I would ask for two. And he would say, alright son, you’ve made good grades today – go ahead and get two things.” Taylor’s football playing weight in high school was 255 pounds. In his freshman year at the University of Florida, he put on another 100 pounds. He was unfortunately placed in Hume Hall, the dorm that housed the only all-you-can-eat cafeteria. With his meal plan, he took full advantage. His weight began to take its toll. One roommate moved out after one semester because of Taylor’s excessive snoring, a consequence of his obesity.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

After graduating from college with a bachelor’s in communications, Taylor lived in Florida for several years before moving to Atlanta where he met his wife Zena. “I thought I would be in Atlanta all my life. But apparently that wasn’t God’s plan,” he says. “I have struggled with obesity all my life,” says Taylor. “I have done what I call the Oprah and Luther Vandross syndrome, where you have seen them gain weight…lose weight…gain weight…lose weight…gain weight… lose weight. “ Taylor has been a living statistic. Data from the Health, United States, 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics report shows that 38 percent of African American men are obese, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The rate for African American women is even higher at 57 percent. Obesity has been classified as a preventable disease, but according to the personalhealthinsurance.com website it is exempt as a pre-existing condition under the Affordable Care Act. Economic status and education have some but little impact. Obesity rates among African Americans who have college degrees and higher incomes still hover around 25 percent. It’s fortunate to be able to address it with bariatric surgery, but Taylor is quick to comment that this is by no means a silver bullet. We seem to be enamored with quick fixes. Taylor had developed many of the ailments associated with obesity – shortness of breath, knee pain, and hypertension, and he struggled to get out of his car because of his weight. It took breaking the driver seat in his crossover vehicle to get him to consider doing something different. It was common to consume 30 chicken wings in a sitting while watching a football game and he drank a 2-liter bottle of diet soda a day. By the time he started considering bariatric surgery, he tipped the scale at nearly 400 pounds. That was about three years ago. Taylor had the bariatric sleeve surgery in 2013. “But what I didn’t anticipate was that nine days after my sur Continued on page 6


Duane Taylor Continued from page 4 gery, I was sitting on that couch and I became sick,” he says. “Now it is yet to be determined whether or not my subsequent illness was the result of my weight loss surgery or not. I ended up in the hospital for two months.” Those two months were the most challenging days of his life. Two additional surgeries were performed. In the eight weeks spent in the hospital between September and November, he was in intensive care for three of them. Taylor recalls little about the whole experience, but pictures his wife took show he was hooked up to every type of medical machine imaginable. He is emotional and often tearful when he talks about it. “But she wouldn’t share those with me until she knew that I was ready to see them, and I appreciate her for that,” he says. After being discharged from SkyRidge Hospital, he checked into a specialty hospital where after an initial assessment, doctors determined that he was too sick to be there and he was sent to another acute care hospital. There the prognosis was for additional surgeries. But Taylor’s wife and mother knew he would not be up for further time under the knife. “I had already had three surgeries within a week. I had my weight loss surgery on Sept. 10, another surgery around the 20, two surgeries, so if I had been taken under that

knife again, I may not have lived. So I had what is called internal wound therapy. I had a hole in my stomach the size of a football and as deep as…probably three inches deep,” he says. The therapy worked, and Taylor was discharged on Nov. 14, but relegated to carrying the eight-pound wound vac until he got the word on New Year’s Eve that he no longer needed it. “The only time I could disconnect it was when I took a shower. I would disconnect it take a shower and then reconnect it and it was a mess. But I thank God for the wound vac, because it helped me to not have to have another surgery,” he tearfully says. Few of us have such a transformational experience that slaps us in the face. Taylor is determined to turn this dark period into a lighting path for others faced with obesity. He elected to have the bariatric procedure, but he knows even with this physical fix, there is the danger of reverting to old habits. “I try to let people know that bariatric surgery is a choice. And that it is not just the solution. Your change has to come really from your mental adjustment. Biblically, we call it the renewing of the mind. You have to have a renewed mind and make the decision that you are going to think differently, be differently, and eat differently. One of the things I plan to do is write a book, and one of the chap-

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ters is going to be ‘All I do is think about food.’ The biggest challenge has been to shed the old Duane. “It is kind of ironic because when I was morbidly obese, all I would do was think about food. And that meant where was I going to go? What was I going to eat?” He met his goal of shedding at least 140 pounds with the surgery. But when he looked in the mirror, he still saw the old Duane. He had lived so long as an obese man, that he had difficulty seeing himself as slim. Could he embrace this new person? Following his surgeries, Taylor was fed intravenously and took nothing through his mouth for weeks. When he was encouraged to start eating, he found it difficult to wrap his mind around eating food again. The old Duane loomed in the back of his mind. But his mental fortitude got him through the pain and anguish. “Babe, I’m tired,” he told his wife one evening over the phone. “We need you,” she tearfully replied. He decided that night in his hospital bed he was going to fight to live his life to the fullest. Today, Taylor exercises in the gym working out six days a week. He fervently works with a dietician and is focused on constantly improving his nutrition. He is coming into his own, comfortable in his own skin as an “agent of encouragement.” “I would say that my escalated level of success with this bariatric surgery is because of my mindset change and my rigorous exercise, which is one thing that I will tell people all over the world as I go out and help people change their mindset. If you have the surgery, that is a choice. But even if you don’t have the surgery, you’ve got to implement exercise into your

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

daily lifestyle. You‘ve got to change the way you look at food. You can’t let food control you.” A year ago, Taylor wore size 56 pants. Today, he wears a size 34. But there is more to life than looking good in your clothes. People who knew the old 390-pound Duane look at the new and improved 197-pound Duane sometimes say, “You’re getting too skinny.” He looks them dead in the eye and tells them “Is there any such thing as too healthy? When we are healthy, we feel good and have energy. If we truly want to live our dreams, we are in a better position to accomplish our goals when we are healthy. “You have to make a decision and really be serious about it. You can’t go at it half-heartedly. And that has permeated every other aspects of my life. In my business, if I can’t put on a grand, epic and signature event, I am not going to bother. No more mediocre. I wasn’t saved and given a second chance at life to do stuff on a mediocre level.” As is the case with many, Taylor’s new outlook is borne of adversity; nevertheless it is prudent to borrow a page from his playbook. He reached a plateau after his surgery and was somewhat dismayed. We reach plateaus in all areas of our lives, so focused on results, we think we have faltered, ignoring the lessons in the process. Taylor has developed an aversion to the past tense in relation to his fitness and health. For him being healthy is an ongoing process. And the process must always be progressing. He emphasizes the ‘ing’ as in being and doing. “It’s not time to replay the first part of my life over again and play it the same way as the first part. It’s time for the next level. A much higher level, a much more fulfilling level on all levels physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually. It’s time to go to the next level. And that is one thing I ask when I try to encourage people – friends and strangers – what are you doing to take yourself to the next level?” Taylor’s next level is telling his story from Morbid to Model, his new personal brand. Knowing that people are more receptive to those who have been there and done that, he plans on a documentary, a book, more press, social media and perhaps talk show appearances in modeling for others struggling with obesity. He recently received more than 800 “Likes” on Facebook when posting about his experience and he currently gives weekly lectures to bariatric patients. Editor’s note: For more information on Duane Taylor, visit www.facebook.com/duane.taylor.712.


Rod Smith,

His Story is His Calling

By Charles Emmons

E

veryone has a story, and everyone has a calling. It may take longer for some of us to find it, but no matter how long it takes, we can impact the world. Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith has a story that is the envy of armchair athletes around the state and the country. Smith is a two-time Super Bowl champion and a member of the Denver Broncos stellar Ring of Fame. In his playing days he was well on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hip injuries forced him out of the game he so loved in 2007 and he retired from professional football in 2008. Smith’s journey parallels many a professional athlete who grew up in unfavorable if not dismal circumstances, who found that sport would lead them out of their communities of despair. He grew up in the small town of Texarkana, Arkansas and played sports in high school, eventually playing Division II football at Missouri Southern State. His childhood was spent most of the time figuring out how to get out of the projects in Texarkana. He made a $20 bet with his mother that he would be the first in the family to graduate from college. He jokingly commented that she still owes him $60 for the three degrees in business that he earned at Missouri Southern State-Marketing, Marketing Management and Finance. Football brought him to higher education and business is what inspired him. “I got three degrees, and I am going to be real with you. It’s because everything that I saw growing up was illegal. I saw a few legal businesses and I can’t discount the good people in my neighborhood with the legitimate businesses, but most of the businesses that I saw were either not done properly or illegal,” says Smith. “The people who I saw living a certain way had legitimate legal businesses, and so I thought that is what I need to study. In order for me to get out of the projects, I need to first understand

Rod Smith is a Diamond level distributor with Organo Gold Coffee, one of the largest direct sales network marketing businesses in the world. Photo by Susan Brown, Studio 13

self, deal with other people and learn how to conduct business.” After football, Smith has had numerous business ventures and investments. “I have made hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars in other businesses since I retired, but none of them have been more personally rewarding as the coffee business,” he says. Smith is a Diamond level distributor with Organo Gold Coffee, one of the largest direct sales network marketing businesses in the world. His team is a purveyor of healthy coffees, and this is not something that

Smith had ever considered before, because he says that he didn’t even drink coffee when he first heard of this new breakthrough in the coffee industry. He loves drinking his gourmet healthy coffee now. As to why he got into the coffee business and network marketing, Smith says, “It was out of my comfort zone.” After I did the research on coffee, it was the first time I had ever heard of a healthy coffee. All the people I had talked to in the beginning, no one had ever heard of healthy coffee. So, I was bringing something that is brand new. We

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2015

were going to be one of the first in the United States, not just Colorado. I was bringing a brand new thing to something that is very old. And that means in terms of my business degrees I got in school a huge opportunity if it works.” Smith has made a good income from the business, but it gives him an added benefit. He is able to help others fulfill their potential and their dreams. He has always been about people, because that is what drives good business, positive relationships. And that has been his greatest challenge, finding good people. “My challenge is to find good people, and to be around good people and yet cultivate great relationships for the rest of my life, says Smith. “And we can go into any business if I am around good people. It doesn’t matter. We could sell used toothpicks and make a killing. If you have good people and good energy, you will find a way to get it done.” Getting it done now is the most significant football metaphor that Smith applies to his business. Whether he is on the gridiron or not, he works hard. He stayed in Denver, because he has built a reputation and doesn’t want to have to re-invent himself. People like him because of how he does things. “The way I perform on the football field is how I perform in business. I want to be the person that is accountable and the person that is going to get the job done, just give me some time and it is going to happen. It could be fast. It could be slow, but over time, it is going to happen.” This acumen stems from Holton Buggs, vice president of sales for Organo Gold, who has become Smith’s good friend and mentor. Smith says, ‘He said at a meeting in December 2008, ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’ “ Smith has long had a high level of achievement and vision, and started learning business lessons early in his life. He says at age 12 he made up his Continued on page 6


Rod Smith

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Continued from page 4 mind to own a Mercedes Benz. He bought his first one in 1999 in Missouri and drove it back to Colorado. While at Southern Missouri State, his late football coach John Lantz, was conducting a goal setting exercise. He asked the players to write down the amount of money they wanted to earn. The young Smith wrote down $30K. Lantz wondered why he had written down such a low figure. Smith explained that where he was from $30K was a lot of money. After arguing with the coach, Smith was convinced to at least write down $50K. This was a long remembered lesson in setting lowered expectations. “I respected him and loved him so much, he believes in me, so I will borrow his belief in me until mine catches up. And my first year in the NFL I made $63K. And I immediately thought back to the conversation I had with him; I thought if I had wrote down $100K, I would have made $100K. But because I only wrote down $50K, I only made $63K. And from that moment on my life changed.� Life is full of teachable moments, but it requires that we pay attention and begin to create our own vision of our best selves. Generations have

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2015

thought, I want to have life be better for my children, or their children have thought I want to do better than my parents. When Smith bought his first Mercedes, he thought he was doing okay, until he popped in a cassette of the book “Think and Grow Rich.� Smith says he still has the Mercedes and Think and Grow Rich; the Napoleon Hill classic study of business success has been a constant companion as he continues his journey. Think and Grow Rich is integral to the Organo Gold culture. “I had never read the book. But I was listening to it for 10 years. And now I teach the book right now to the people in direct sales network marketing,� said Smith. “I am teaching that book right now to the people in my organization. We are on chapter 12 and 13 right now. We do two chapters every other week. We train on 2 chapters of Think and Grow Rich every other week. If the book has made more millionaires besides the bible, why wouldn’t people study it?� Smith made millions playing for the Denver Broncos, but he says that he has made seven figures in coffee as well. And he says others can do the same. He is on a different team in a different space now, focusing forward on building a better life for his children, grandchildren and their chil-


dren. The road has not always been smooth. He made mistakes with money as well as other areas in his life. Fifteen years ago he faced domestic abuse charges in Douglas County, and has since been lumped in with other NFL players who faced similar charges. “It’s old and the one thing I learned and that I won’t shy away from is how to stay in control of my emotions and me. That is what I learned. That is what I teach people. You can control your emotions. I don’t get too high and don’t get too Smith is a two-time Super Bowl champion and a low when things happen one way or another. You’ll make better decisions,” member of the Denver Broncos stellar Ring of Fame. says Smith. “Everybody is caught up principles he will learn that I learned, in the heat of the moment and differand he will get real life example from ent things happen in life. Life is fast me. And this is perfect for a 20-year-old. nowadays. Sometimes things happen Everything Rod Smith does now is so fast that you think you don’t have for the future of his family. He says time to respond, and sometimes we that he doesn’t want his three grandjust react. And if we can just pause for sons and their children to have to a second or two and learn to respond, work to live. “That’s the way I think to everybody would make better deciday. That’s all I sions.” focus on is my The lessons he grandson’s kids “Sometimes you have to has learned in never having to football and in celebrate the small wins, work. Not that business he they won’t work, imparts to his because when you get the because I want family and his them to have the business team, small wins they turn into big principles, the which has grown respect for workto 49,253 Organo big results.” ing, but not have Gold independto work to eat or ent distributors. – Rod Smith to work to pay His youngest son some bills. I Roderick Smith Jr. want them to will play football work in a space where they can be for Colorado State University in the fall. philanthropists and cause driven, not Rod said he asked him for a copy of the just, because they are hungry.” “Think and Grow Rich” workbook Even NFL and NBA athletes, who which his son pulled off the bookshelf. from the outside seem blessed with “He’s 20 years old and he wants a Think riches, go bankrupt. Smith said that and Grow Rich workbook that will be approximately 93 percent of NFL the best gift I can give him this year, players three to five years after they because if he actually uses it he will quit playing have no money. A 2009 understand how to manifest and how to article in Sports Illustrated estimated attract the things to accomplish the that 78 percent of professional athletes dreams and goals that he wants. go broke. This happens mostly Because I did it. These are the same because they lack the proper informa-

tion and guidance. As a Bronco, Smith was promoting financial literacy in the locker room. The information has always been in libraries and now it is on the Internet. But the plight of many NFL players is not so different from the armchair athletes who watch them on ESPN; Smith says that 97 percent of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. That is the major reason Smith went into the coffee business, to help people. He gets a good feeling knowing that because he said yes six years ago when a friend pitched Organo Gold to him, he is having a positive impact on the personal economies of countless individuals. “There are two families in my organization that have made over $1 million in this business, and countless others who are making thousands of dollars a month,” says Smith. “Others miss opportunity because they don’t have the proper guidance. There’s no way they could have made that kind of money with a job.” His guides on this journey are the Bible and Think and Grow Rich, which he says is the most under utilized text. He attends the Upper Room UPC church, under pastors Derwood and Nancy Tate. He revealed he also has a book in the germinal stages, “It’s called The Rod Effect…From the Projects to NFL Super Bowl Stardom, and How You

Too Can Achieve,” says Smith. It’s going to be eight success tips or steps that are going to be highlighted in that book, all based on dreaming - how to actually manifest your dreams. When he began to look at where he has come from and what he has done, he wanted to share the knowledge, lessons and strategies that got him there. “You’ve got to celebrate…that’s a principle that I want people to understand. Sometimes you have to celebrate the small wins, because when you get the small wins they turn into big big results.” Big results usually bring huge successes. Smith believes that when we do better our communities are better. Everyone is a work in progress and Smith sees himself as no exception. All people are great, they just have to see themselves that way. “Sometimes you just need someone to encourage you and talk to you and tell you how great you are. So that is kind of the person I want to be. You don’t have to pat me on the back. You don’t have to give me any credit, and you don’t have to give me any kudos or awards. Just knowing that one day I did or said something that changed someone’s thought processes and they became a better person, and then I won. So I am still about winning. And winning doesn’t mean somebody else has to lose.”

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Beyond Selma: Vote in May…It Matters! DUS Updates Community On The Mayoral, City Council Races By Charles Emmons

I

t‘s early spring. Just over 30 days out from the Denver Municipal election and there is a smattering of political yard signs everywhere. If this were November the byways would be covered too. Just because Barack Obama is already president and this is a local election with less fanfare and political ads on the television, does not mean you shouldn’t make voting a priority. March 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the marches in Selma, Alabama. Even President Obama went there with his family to observe this important anniversary recently brought to the forefront of popular culture in the film Selma. Although few dispute it as an ugly time in our nation’s history some discount its rele-

vance today. However, we must never forget the men and women who were beaten on “Bloody Sunday” and during other similar demonstrations fought with courage, persistence and tenacity in the pursuit of the basic civil right to vote. President Obama’s message, and that of Georgia congressman John Lewis, resonated with many but there is still much work to be done. Although poll taxes and literacy tests are no more, other forms of voter suppression continue to threaten our democracy. Denver may seem far removed from the Jim Crow south, but African Americans and Latinos have been protesting and fighting for equal employment in the Mile High City since the 1960s. The Keyes desegregation case that a Park Hill resident brought against Denver Public Schools

We are working hard to keep our promises to you. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Re Elect Working to Connect OUR Diverse Communities in District 9 Former Mayor Wellington Webb Says “Three years ago, I endorsed a young man who I thought would bring new young leadership and compassion to the most diverse district in the city. He has undertaken the tough issues and not ducked any controversial topics. He has brought new development and sense of community to the entire district with residents feeling that everyone counts. I am proud of the job he is doing as our councilman.”

AlbusBrooksforDenver.org Facebook/CouncilmanAlbusBrooks Twitter@AlbusBrooksD8 Paid for by Albus Brooks for Denver.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2015

Sponsored & Co-Sponsored Numerous Events in Northeast Denver D Celena Hollis Memorial D Annual King M. Trimble., Esq. Tea & Roses Senior Social D Annual Hiawatha Davis Jr. Senior Luncheon D Safe Summer Safe Holly Park Hill Festival D Imagin8 Neighborhood Tour: My office embarked on a strategic visioning tour, bringing every neighborhood together to share ideas about challenges and opportunities in our district.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT D Established Welton in Five Points as an Urban Renewal Area D Partnered with the Office of Economic Development (OED) for the Welton Street Design Challenge D Changed the name from Welton Street Cultural Historic District to the Five Points Historic Cultural District (Official in the fall of 2014) D Future development of the Central Denver Recreation Center D Grocery stores working to eliminate the food deserts in NE Denver: Sprouts Farmers Market, Colfax & Garfield, and Walgreens, 35th & Colorado Blvd.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT D Partnered with OED to provide intensive training to over 70 young men & women of color who live in District 8 and have been involved in the justice system. D Upon completing the training, the young adults attended a job fair. Over 40 employers participated: 550 job opportunities were available.


District No. 1 went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. Although the city has had its trials and triumphs, it is perhaps the growing independent character of voters that has allowed for the majority of the city’s successes. Denver’s first Hispanic mayor Federico Pena coined the phrase, “imagine a Great City” and he funded Denver International Airport (DIA) and built a new convention center. Wellington Webb, Denver’s first African American mayor, completed the airport. The second African American and current mayor, Michael Hancock imagines even greater things for Denver and DIA. Mayor Hancock has had a successful first term. He has forged the requisite partnerships with the business community to bring jobs and investment and has worked with the educational community to help ensure that an educated workforce is ready to take the jobs that are being created. A review of his 2014 State of the City report reveals many of his accomplishments. If fundraising wins elections, it appears that he will easily earn a second term – even with the likes of Sauk’, Paul Noel Fiorino and Marcus Giavanni having been officially certified on the mayoral ballot. He has raised more than a million dollars for his campaign. Mayor Hancock has also taken Mayor Webb’s walking of Denver neighborhoods to another level. While leveraging social media, he is out and about in the community. Photos on his Facebook page from St. Patrick’s Day reveal he may even have a bit of the Irish in him. Still, effective governing is not fun; it is hard work and Hancock, like many of his colleagues on city council, is aware that not all neighborhoods have been a part of Denver’s success. For example, in 2014 he focused his attention on slighted neighborhoods like Westwood and Five Points/Welton Street. The Five Points neighborhood recently received $150 million in funds for redevelopment. It was thought in the early 1990s that light rail would boost the area’s economic standing, but that did not pan out – and the stark contrast is quite apparent when driving in from a new and vibrant downtown onto Welton Street in Five Points. Fortunately, the rehab and redevelopment of such historical landmarks like the Rossonian Hotel are helping the vision change for the area. District 8 has many changes. Albus Brooks represents the economic engine of downtown and has frequent interfaces with business and organizations like the Downtown Denver Partnership. His Integr8 program in partnership with the Denver Office of

Economic Development placed nearly 30 at-risk youth in gainful employment. These were youth on the margins that had committed felonies or misdemeanors. Brooks is just one of the young councilmen who are making a difference in Denver’s communities of color, while at the same time making a mark as good policy and law makers. During a conversation with him last fall he told me: “The city is what changes your life most immediately. The city is where I have the opportunity to make a decision on Monday and it affects someone’s life on Tuesday. People don’t understand that 90 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product) is generated in cities. We have so much influence and power on a city level to change the welfare of individuals. So it is extremely important for African Americans and Latinos in this city to begin seeing the advantage that they have in their elected officials at the city level and seeing that the power they can bring at the city level.” Brooks is running for reelection. He will represent the redrawn District 9. Another young councilman and current council president Chris Herndon has moved out of District 11 and is running in District 8, which now includes the Stapleton neighborhood. His latest accomplishment is getting the Punch Bowl Social restaurant into the old control tower property in Stapleton and he, like Brooks, is focused on programs that help break the preschool to prison pipeline for youths, particularly ones of color. His successful Northeast Denver Leadership Week slated for June 1519, will focus on providing young people with career alternatives and leadership opportunities. Redistricting happens in Denver every 10 years. The boundaries were redrawn in 2012 to go in effect for the May 5 election. District 9 will include Five Points, Cole, Elyria Swansea, Coors Field and the Pepsi Center. District 8 will include Park Hill, Stapleton, Northfield and parts of Montbello. District 11, one of the most competitive races, will include parts of Montbello, Green Valley Ranch and DIA. According to the denvergov.org website: Current City Council members will represent constituents within these boundaries until July 20. 2015 City Council Districts: These boundaries will be used to determine voter and candidate eligibility for the May 5 General Municipal Election and any election thereafter. Representation for these boundaries will go into effect when newly elected City Council representatives are sworn into office on July 20. Chris Herndon’s departure from

District 11 leaves an open seat. There are now five candidates vying for his spot – Sean Bradley, Shelli Brown, Stacie Gilmore and Tea Schook (candidate Tim Camarillo is also on the certified ballot, but he has not reported any campaign contributions). Here’s some of what they had to say when I reached out to them for comment on the pressing issues and their candidacy. DUS: What are the major issues facing Denver and its communities? Sean Bradley Particularly out here in our neighborhood it’s growth. There are 12,000 people moving into Denver every year and we are seeing the effects of that in Green Valley Ranch and Montbello. Growth is really happening. Traffic is really a problem here. The other thing is that we have some real challenges with safety. We have had enough shootings that have taken place in our community, that now people think we should be that much more alarmed. Because that was during the cold months of the year, just imagine what could potentially happen during the summertime. Continued on page 14

Being your Mayor has been the greatest honor of my life. Together, we are making this city a better place for your family and for mine.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2015

HANCOCKFORDENVER.COM Paid for by Hancock for Denver; Joshua J. Widoff, Treasurer


Beyond Selma...Vote in May Continued from page 12 And so having a safe environment and a safe community to raise a family and for seniors to continue to live out their lives, that is a real challenge for us out here. And then the third thing I would say are the grocery options that we don’t have for our community are real and legitimate. But we do have economic development challenges. We do have senior transportation challenges. We need to make sure that RTD is running full services throughout our neighborhoods so that seniors can get to their prescriptions and get to their doctor’s appointments and then get back home.

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Shelli Brown It’s growing pains. We are a city that has grown tremendously and District 11, in particular as it is now, has seen 75 percent of the growth across Denver. We are trying to figure out how to accommodate all that. Whether that means housing, whether that means amenities and services that match all these developments, in different parts of the city we are hearing the same common theme, just maybe a little differently. I would also say our public safety department is going through some changes. Our sheriff’s department was highlighted (for use of excessive force and officer misconduct) over the summer and our police department has had this issue come up more recently. So that is a citywide issue and something that we need to that we need to kind of think through so that the folks in charge of keeping us safe and managing our safety are really making the best decisions possible on our behalf, and with us, if that makes sense. Those are the two big things that come to mind. Stacie Gilmore The three most important issues facing the city are 1. Denver is under retailed, with revenue seepage to other municipalities 2. Lack of affordable housing: and 3. Investment in infrastructure, including roads. The issues facing our community in District 11 are the need for 1. Youth and adult training programs, with an emphasis on jobs leading to livable wage careers with benefits: 2. Healthy food options: and 3, addressing transportation issues with our roads that create traffic flow bottlenecks.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2015

Tea Schook How to balance the needs of residents with growth – managing growth – with balancing the desire for safe neighborhoods and city with fears of police overreaction, getting basic maintenance like streets, lights, traffic management, sidewalks and code enforcement in District 11. Jumping into the public sphere to tackle these issues is a daunting task, especially considering the fact that some have lingered for more than 25 years. Bradley moved to Denver 11 years ago and has worked on Capitol Hill and with state legislatures, but he says his grandparents, mother and aunt (who were precinct judges and spent time registering people to vote in rural Texas respectively) inspired him to pursue public service. “They were registering people to vote, they were encouraging people to go to the polls. And so to get a chance to see that really showed me how impactful you can be in the community – if you vote, you participate and get involved.” Brown, a licensed counselor who has lived in Green Valley Ranch since 2001, works as the site manager for a violence prevention youth program in Montbello. “I think in the capacity of this job and position my eyes were opened to the possibility of leading the community in a different way,” Brown said. Gilmore has run a successful environmental education nonprofit for 20 years. For her it is about quality of life. “I love our community. I am passionate and committed to making sure it is represented on all issues affecting our quality of life. We deserve to live in a community that has smart and sustainable economic growth, jobs that lead to careers and a beautiful neighborhood where the quality of life supports our family’s health and wellbeing.” Schook has been a community and political activist all her adult life. She says she worked under and was mentored by Mayor Webb, Cathy Donohue and Cathy Reynolds. “City council is the form of government that is closest to the people governed and is the next natural step in a lifetime dedicated to bringing power to the people.” DUS: Why do you think you are the best public servant to address some of the critical issues? Bradley I think because of my experiences. I’ve worked on the federal government level; I’ve worked on the state government level [and] I’ve worked


on the local government level. I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector and as the president of the Denver Urban League. My wife and I started our own business, so my wife and I are small business owners. We live in the neighborhood. We know these issues. Having political experience allows me to maneuver through the weeds and get things done on behalf of the people in this community. We have a significant amount of support in the neighborhood and throughout the city, so I am not just thinking we can do this work. I know we can do this work. Brown Because I work hard: because I am not in it for anybody else but the community. I feel that I can be a strong advocate for the families that are in far northeast, because it is something that is natural for me. I have been living out here since 2001 raising my family. Our district includes most of Montbello, Green Valley and DIA. I don’t want to discount DIA which has a pretty large impact over the whole city, but in terms of keeping my finger on the pulse of really what is going on in the community itself, I feel I am the strongest candidate to be that voice. I am the one that is most embedded in this community and the one that is doing this community work every day. Far northeast Denver is essentially the center of my world because of the fact that I do live and work here. So I really do have a stake in seeing this district represented well. Gilmore The role of an elected city leader should be to listen first, do their best to thoroughly understand an issue, gather information from content experts and then be able to make a decision based on that information. I have been doing this throughout my 20 years of work in the community and I will continue this through my public service. I will stay true to my work for the past two decades in

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which I champion children and families to succeed, making sure we have a fiscally responsible government, economic opportunities and a high quality of life to ensure our citizens have every chance to succeed in life. Schook I bring experience to the role; I have worked for the city of Denver nearly 18 years. I managed the relationship with the restaurant owners at the airport as food and beverage manager and now as land manager I work with our external tenants – the rental cars, the gas station, and the pet boarding facility. I have worked with businesses of all sizes to create successes for them and for local government. I wrote Denver’s AntiDiscrimination Ordinance, a law protecting all people in the city, and I pulled together a coalition of religious, racial, business and social entities to lobby the city council for its passage, which was accomplished in 1990. I bring passion, experience and commitment to the job along with the desire to make something good into something great. These candidates give voice to many of the issues on the minds of many in the metro area and they want you to know they are passionate about running and resolving them. Last October former Mayor Webb told the Spectrum that you always vote for your interests. Everyone has an interest in a good job, good schools for their children, infrastructure to support your daily commute and a safe environment to raise a family. We have a responsibility to participate in the process and let them know what we want. Engage and investigate all of the candidates online and with social media, but also in person at town halls, neighborhood meetings and when they knock on your door. Tell them what you want and need and validate that by casting you’re on May 5th for the one you feel most likely to get it done for you.

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303-819-7784 Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2015

Center for Urban Education


Volume 29

Number 4

July 2015

Afrikmall: Afrikmall Aurora’s Gateway to All Things African...4 It’s Summertime in the Rockies

Colorado Black Arts Festival - More Than Just a Festival ...8


Africa Meets Aurora Through By Charles Emmons

C

olfax Avenue is the longest

commercial strip in the United States. Its eastern route spans two cities, Denver and Aurora. In its prime, East Colfax Avenue was a bustling commercial district with automobile dealerships, motels for travelers and independent businesses, but as suburbs and shopping malls developed, these types of main streets fell out of favor with the new growing communities. Aurora has grown significantly, and is now Colorado’s second most populated city. Much of this growth is attributed to the increase in immigrants eager to be successful in a new home. The African immigrant population has increased over the last 10 years. With the grand opening and ribbon cutting set for July 16, Afrikmall, a concept nearly 10 years in development, aims to capitalize on this with a cultural center and retail mall providing goods and services to the community. Afrikmall will be located at 10180 E. Colfax Ave. (Colfax and Galena), in a building with strong commercial roots in old Aurora. Built in 1952, up until recently it housed the Broyhill furniture store and was the original JC Penney in Aurora. The nearly 57,000 square feet of space has been remodeled and at opening will have nearly 25 signed retail tenants occupying spaces averaging 400 square feet, with some ranging 800 to 1,000 square feet. Afrikmall is an original, yet evolving concept. Besides retail it will also include a cultural and educational center, and conference and meeting spaces. It will be for the enjoyment and use of the entire community, and will be an especially strong amenity for anyone wanting to know more about the different cultures of African countries. Afrikmall started as a concept about eight years ago in the Ghanaian community. A group

Afrikmall Aurora Cultural Arts District (ACAD) corridor, and already has an ally in the organization. The ACAD board president is Bob Hagedorn, a former state senator who represented Aurora south of Colfax for years. With years of government experience at all levels, Hagedorn has offered technical assishad booked conference space in a term lease was negotiated with tance and interfacing with the city for hotel, intending to celebrate their inde- Afrikmall. a successful grand opening. Major retail tenants will include a Afrikmall “is well thought out in my pendence day but was told that the beauty salon, barbershop, beauty supopinion. Quite frankly I think it is a brilrevelry was too loud. Afrikmall CEO ply business, Ghanaian, Ethiopian, liant business plan,” said Hagedorn, Cobina Lartson, Ph.D., was the public and Senegalese boutiques, a grocery who is also CEO of FAX Aurora, the relations officer for the group, and store and a lounge. Additionally, there third iteration of a business organization thought it may be time to find a space will be eight kiosks in the first floor for urban Aurora. “And when I talk for events. “It started as a response to mall corridor and six food court about a brilliant business plan, I am talka community need, a space where we restaurants representing seven differing about bringing people, increasing could do things ourselves without ent African countries. On the second traffic, human traffic, customer traffic, interfering with the public,” said level mezzanine, there will be more retail traffic, whatever, into the area. So I Lartson. They first looked in northretail, an educational, cultural and think it’s just a great business, because it west Aurora, near Montview and conference center, and possibly a spa. is going to bring a lot of people here.“ Dayton, but were not able to raise The grand opening in July is just Located a short walk from the enough funds for the desired location. the beginning, and the space is decepAurora Fox Theatre and the Martin It seemed the African community was tively large. The 5,000 square feet Luther King, Jr., Library and about a willing to support the concept, but Mandela ballroom can be partitioned mile from the University of Colorado finding money was an issue. into smaller rooms also named for Anschutz Medical Campus, Afrikmall is Eventually fellow Ghanaian, African leaders, Haile Selassie and positioned to revitalize this part of old Emmanuel Eliason, brought the conKwame Nkrumah. There will also be a Aurora. New development is someversation to Innovation Pavilion, a second phase in the development. The times sparse, driving east or west on business incubator in Centennial, third floor, featuring 9,000 square feet, East Colfax Avenue. The byway in the Colo., and they were able to partner is slated to be a business incubator area is a ghost of its former self and has with Colorado-based Northstar that will be divided into offices and been dominated by near transient busiCommercial Partners, a real estate cubicles. Lartson notes that those in nesses, vacant spaces and those that development company that buys the community should consider the cater to poor people like pawnshops buildings in communities with the center for events and meetings instead and rent-a-stores. There is a perception intent of fostering jobs and economic of going downtown or to the DTC. that East Colfax Avenue is unsafe. growth in neighborhoods. Northstar Afrikmall will be a jewel in the Lartson is out to change that by bringbought the Colfax location and a longing people from neighborhoods Left to Right: Emmanuel K. Eliason, Kobina Lartson, Albert K. Quartey, Edward K. Mensah, Seth Nyarko Assabil between CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Stapleton and Lowry to Afrikmall to do business. Whether you need postal or printing services, want to get a bite to eat or cup of coffee, or need a new outfit for a special occasion, Lartson and Eliason want you to think of Afrikmall as your go-to place. While you are there you will be able to experience some of the distinctive African culture the center offers with art exhibits and educational programs. “Tracy Weil is our managing director of the ACAD. We as well Continued on page 6 Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015


Afrikmall

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Continued from page 4 as the ACAD board are very excited to have access to and so close to the arts district, African art and culture. For us it obviously complements the arts district. We are one of the more unique arts districts, and from the get go have engaged our neighbors as our major constituent group. Santa Fe is just now reaching out, but I would say that we have the diverse arts district. Africa just adds to our credibility as being the diverse cultural arts district.” The journey to opening has been long. Eight years ago Afrikmall was envisioned as a non-profit, but when funding did not come, they had to revisit their vision, which now combines revenue generating retail spaces and Afrikmall LLC with the Afrikmall Foundation, a non-profit that operates the cultural and educational center. In March 2014 there was buzz that it would open last summer, but finances and unrealistic expectations in the construction process delayed the opening for a year. Lartson said that the five board of directors, which include Lartson and Eliason as well as 17 other individuals or organizations, have put in their own monies to get Afrikmall open. He added that the African community was solicited and enlisted in the

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

process, and those who listened and contributed stand to benefit. Lartson related the story of trying to raise funds for the project within the African communities. He was looking for $1,000 investment from 4,000 people, yielding $4 million, which would have allowed them to buy the building and complete the remodel and have cash for operating. There was caution in the community as if someone was going to run off with the money and never be seen. “I want that part of the story told to let people know that we are still here. We have not run off with anybody’s money. There are more than five of us,” said Lartson. “Some people listened, and we are still looking for people to be a part of this as we become successful and move forward to the next location and the next level.” There are numerous African businesses throughout the metro area, but according to Lartson, operate in isolation and in most cases under difficult circumstances. Rent in Aurora Mall and larger malls are steep and often unpredictable. Aside from the financial measures, Afrikmall’s success will be determined by how effectively it is in its mission, which is to bring the community together. “Whether we will be able to open this and sustain it is dependent


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Afrikmall Groundbreaking Event

FFRIDAY R DAY RI AY on the ability to pay the rent, our investors, ourselves and have some cash for expenses, because we are looking at possibly five more locations in the next 10 years,” said Lartson. “The other measure of success is the impact we have on the community, the Africans and African American community. The motto we stand on is ‘uniting the community through commerce and culture.’ ” Eliason said, “One other measure will be how the businesses here will thrive. How many new ventures are created and sustained or incubated in this space. One element of our philosophy is if we have the ability to be the bridge between the United States and various African countries in terms of investments, to just know Africa, we become the central location in Colorado or the United States to reach out to the continent of Africa for eco-

Afrikmall Businesses Abyssinian Fashion Afraccino Coffee African Gifts African Fabric & Art Afrikmall Cultural Center Afrikmall Grocery Afrikmall Salon Akwaba Restaurant Akapoco Restaurant All Soul Mobile Ama Beauty Supply BG Ice cream Everyday Print & Ship Center Gamstyle GG Restaurant Jonori European Boutique Jonori Restaurant (Congolese) Konjo restaurant Mary African Fabric Monica Fashion Niamke LLC Peace & Joy LLC Queen of Sheba Exotic Elements Rosema Designs Sankofa Lounge Terranga Restaurant Teranga (Senegalese Boutique) Travel Agency

nomic development and other things. I think that would be a good measure of success for us. That’s a greater impact that we could have on the world.” A worldview has been driving Lartson and Eliason since they arrived here from Ghana more than a decade ago. Lartson, who taught high school science for 10 years, was on the first flight from Ghana following 9/11, and came to Colorado to pursue a master’s in environmental leadership at Naropa University in Boulder. He connected with the small African community in Boulder but then moved to Aurora and commuted. He eventually moved his family here, and subsequently received his Ph.D. in educational leadership and innovation at the School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver. Eliason, the Afrikmall chief business development officer, has a similar story. He first came to Colorado in 1997 for a few weeks working for an oil and gas company based in the Ivory Coast. He returned to Colorado just before 9/11, and received his Bachelor of Science in computer information systems with a minor in management from Columbia College in Aurora and then a master’s in organizational leadership at Regis University. The bios of the other members with ownership in Afrikmall are similar. They have Ghanaian roots, and have come here to better themselves and their families wanting to pursue the American dream of opening a business. Management team members are professionals and bring their business acumen and a wealth of experience in management, information technology, project management construction and real estate. They share a commitment to make Africans successful here as well as on the continent. According to Lartson, Afrikmall will attract people who want to be a part of something new and those who have not traveled to Africa, but aspire to experience the best of African culture. “That is something that this location will bring,” he said.  Editor’s note: The grand opening celebration is July 16-18 with a variety of events planned. For more information, details and tickets, visit www.afrikmall.com.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015


W hy be well? Being healthy is almost seen as a Colorado value, with the state’s population ranked as being one of the healthiest. But this is not true for all

Be Healthy and Be Epic with “be well” Initiative By Charles Emmons

demographic groups. In parts of Denver, physical inactivity is a significant risk factor particularly among the African American population. The Denver Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BFRSS) revealed that 33.9 percent of African Americans residents were obese compared to 13.5 percent of white residents; 43.6 percent have high blood pressure and almost 25 percent admitted not having participated in physical activity in the last 30 days.

Ask yourself, “Am I doing enough to be well?” “Is my neighborhood and community healthy?” This is an imperative conversation for everyone, and the be well Health and Wellness Initiative has started the discussion. be well, an initiative of the Stapleton Foundation aligned with its purpose to create healthy sustainable urban communities, is an innovative move-

ment of neighbors coming together to take charge of their health and wellness in a be well Zone. The be well zones include six neighborhoods –Greater Park Hill, Northeast Park Hill, East Montclair, Montbello, Stapleton and Northwest Aurora. These are some of the metro area’s most diverse localities across all measures and demographics.

Be EPIC Health disparities exist in our communities, particularly among lowincome African Americans. This is a national problem the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized. CDC has partnered with be well through its Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program to address these differences in Colorado. REACH is a 16-year-old CDC program focused on racial and ethnic communities experiencing health disparities. Recently, be well launched be well be EPIC, an Exchange of Power to Impact Community Change partnership to spark the conversation. be EPIC is a collaboration of individuals, organization and business leaders, and other community stakeholders working to increase access to physical activity opportunities among African Americans. The be EPIC project is cooperatively funded by the CDC, which has invested more than $35 million nationwide to address health disparities. Djuana Harvell, PhD, project manager for the be well be Epic project, says that the goal of the program is to increase access to physical activity opportunities. Harvell is leveraging the success of be well and be well cen-

ters to facilitate physical activity and address some of the policy issues related to greater physical activity. A variety of barriers impact health outcomes in the community including local policies and structures. Many of which have made it more difficult for residents with the fewest resources to become and remain physically active. In the be well Zone, our community members and partners have identified two primary objectives to increase access to physical activity: •To support the development of a standard partnership policy that could leverage city resources through collaborations with nonprofit organizations and local businesses to expand access to opportunities for physical activity and lay the groundwork to incorporate health and wellness into the Denver recreation center system. •To inform the transit service plans to make transit use more assessable in underserved communities for which riders are often pedestrians first. The focus of the CDC REACH grant is on changing policies and systems and creating access to opportunities. Stakeholder groups have been formed to bring together decisionmakers and community members to advance community input and inform decisions about recreational amenities and transportation services. be well be Epic needs more residents to join the conversation and get involved, says Harvell. “If you are looking for something positive to do in your community join our volunteer base of residents and stakeholders for the be well Health and Wellness Initiative. We provide volunteer training and have a be well block captain approach that offers different tiers of volunteer opportunities.”

Be Active At the heart of be well are the be well block captains, who are on the ground knocking on doors with the passionate intent of focusing their neighbors on living healthy lifestyles and creating healthy communities. They listen to residents as well as educate them on important health topics, inform them on opportunities and connect them to health resources. be well block captains encourage healthy living through innovative leadership, community organizing and education. A huge success of the be well block captains’ efforts has been support for the development of the be well cenDenver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2015

ters. be well has partnered with the City and County of Denver, the City of Aurora and various other organizations to provide free healthy living services through the establishment of the be well centers. Located at the Hiawatha Davis and Central Park recreation centers in Denver and at Moorhead in Aurora, these facilities offer free fitness and cooking classes for residents in the be well Zone, as well as free heart health screenings that include height, weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol testing. Also, a be well team member is onsite to help with enrollment for programs such as Medicaid, food assistance, Connect for Health Colorado Health Insurance and other services. Massage, dental screenings and other services are also offered periodically throughout the year. Patrice Wallace, a be well center participant, said, “I’m so grateful for the be well centers. They have motivated me to work-out and now I’m hooked!” What’s stopping you from being well? Motivation? Cost? Anyone 15 years or older living in the be well zones may register for free. No recreation ID is needed. Residents can visit www.bewellconnect.net to learn more and sign up for activities at the be well centers.

Be Youthful Youth are integral to be well. Studies have shown that not only proper nutrition but physical activity is tied to academic achievement. be well Youth has two major initiatives: the be well Youth Block Captain program and be well Schools Wellness Teams in Denver and Aurora Public Schools. To date, more than 1,700 people have been impacted by the be well Youth program.

Be a Part of the be well Movement You can learn more about be well and its initiatives, and become better informed about the imperative for healthy living in our communities at a special event, a Tail Gate Party, planned for Saturday, September 19. In the meantime, throughout August, be well is having a series of Healthy Happy Hours, fun and informal, networking events where you can gather and become engaged in the conversation about these health issues and encourage people to engage in physical activity. You can contact be well about hosting one of these events for your organization. Everyone has a role in creating healthy communities where we can all achieve the health we desire. Visit the be well website at www.bewellconnect.net, to learn how you can play your part. 


Black Journalists Recognize 2015 Media Award Winners

ers Noelle Phillips, Monte Whaley, Lisa Kennedy, John Wenzel, Colleen O’Connor, Mary Stevens, Terry Frei; and KOA radio’s Jerry Bell. Denver Post theatre critic Lisa Kennedy was recognized as Print Journalist of the Year. CBS4 morning reporter Rahel Solomon was honored as Broadcast Journalist of the Year. The Gomez Howard Group won twice – principal Jeff Howard was recognized as Public Relations Professional of the Year and the firm received the SIE award for Campaign of the Year for Destination Health 5K, presented by the Center for African American Health. N’Dea Carter, a sophomore at the Community College of Denver (CCD), received a matching scholarship. Dr. Everett J. Freeman, president of CCD, was in attendance to present her the award. CABJ officers include Gabrielle Bryant, president; Julius Vaughns, vice president of professionals and treasurer; and Danielle Nelson, secretary. 

TO FIND LOVE, YOU HAVE TO DRESS THE PART.

Illustration by Kyle Malone

Works published by the Denver Urban Spectrum were recognized at the Colorado Association of Black Journalists at its annual media awards and scholarship banquet held at the Denver Marriott City Center on Aug. 14. The event, emceed by CBS46 anchor and former CABJ president Gloria Neal, awards scholarships to aspiring African American journalists and recognizes the talents and contributions of CABJ members in the areas of print, television and radio as well as public relations and the lifetime achievement. CABJ is the Denver-based chapter of the 3,500 member National Association of Black Journalists, marking its 40-year anniversary this year. NABJ founding member Sandra Dillard was recognized with a standing ovation as a pioneer during the banquet. CABJ also recognizes exemplary coverage of Colorado’s African American community with the Scribes in Excellence (SIE) award, in which the Denver Urban Spectrum was recognized four times. Tamara Banks was recognized for the May 2015 cover story, “Black Lives Matter in South Sudan.” Charles Emmons was honored for January 2015 cover story, “Duane Taylor: Saved for the Next Level.” Photographer Lorenzo Dawkins was recognized for his images that accompanied the cover story on Taylor and for the Sept. 2014 cover story, “Racing to Advance Our Future.” The SIE awards were also presented to CBS4’s Rahel Solomon, Brian Maass, Bill Masure and Kevin Hartfield, Mark Ackerman; 9News’ Byron Reed, Nelson Garcia and TaRhonda Thomas; Denver Post writ-

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Tyler Perry:

The Storyteller, Businessman and Father

Familiar Characters and Teachable Moments Key to Tyler Perry’s Success By Charles Emmons

M

adea is coming to Denver!

Tyler Perry’s beloved character, created nearly 20 years ago, will grace the stage of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Oct. 20 and 21 in a new musical stage play, “Tyler Perry’s Madea on the Run.”

Tyler Perry, a writer, storyteller, producer, director, actor, philanthropist, mogul – we ran out of nouns to describe him – has evolved into a significant force in the media. After successful television shows on TBS, “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” he spends his days with the series that revolve seasons on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), “The Haves and the Have Nots,” “Love thy Neighbor,” “If Loving You is Wrong” and “For Better or Worse.” The series has caught on with audiences, since debuting in 2011. He works hard and seems to move easily from projects on the stage to television to the movies, but has been somewhat private about his life. But Perry, a close friend of Winfrey, opened up in a 2010 article for

Winfrey’s O Magazine and gave us a glimpse into the world of the man –Tyler Perry. It is that interview that we primarily reference for this interview. The interview revealed that Perry had struggled with a tough life in his native New Orleans, a life riddled with abuse and confusion, and what appeared to be little love. He eventually moved to Atlanta in 1992 where for nearly seven years he worked every kind of job imaginable, all while writing and putting on his plays to small audiences but always with the expectation of packing the house. Perry’s story is one of resilience. Like many artists, his art is borne of personal pain and a particular view of their world. At times he was homeless and living out of his car. We are grateful he made time to share some thoughts about his story with the Denver Urban Spectrum. DUS: When you were living in your car, what is the vision

that inspired you to keep going? Perry: My faith has always been the thing that keeps me going. I thank God every day that my mother took me to church when I was a little boy to help build a foundation that sustains me today. Perry was finally able to produce his play, I Know I Have Been Changed, to a packed house in 1998. Madea is just one of the characters he brought to life on stage and then to the screen. In the O Magazine interview he related that as a young man he was inspired to write by watching the Oprah Winfrey Show, but he gave characters voice in his writing to mask some of his pain. A friend saw some of his writing and thought he had something worthwhile to share. Madea is a compilation of the sympathetic softer side of his mother

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2015

and the gun-toting aunt who rescued and protected him from an abusive father. Madea has been his most enduring character. DUS: Madea has been the most successful franchise both on the stage and on the screen. What do you want audiences to learn from her? Why do you think she continues to resonate with audiences? Perry: Madea has the same kind of no nonsense approach that is needed in this day and age. She is not politically correct and she says what we’re all thinking so that’s the connection. With the significant presence on television and in the movies, Perry has gone back to his roots with the road tour of the stage play Tyler Perry’s Madea on the Run. After nearly 20 years, Perry still believes audiences will glean something good from the character and the story. Winfrey noted in the O Magazine interview that attending a Tyler Perry play was like going to church. DUS: With your substantial presence on television, why are your plays still relevant and important? Perry: The plays are still relevant because it’s such a unique and different experience. It’s a concert, its church, it’s a comedy show, and a good time all wrapped into one. A good dramatist captures the attention of the audience and draws them in. We should feel a connection to the characters and like them often feel empathy for them. Perry does this on the stage and in his teleplays and screenplays, and like any good artist he raises the level of conversation and starts discussions about issues that we sometimes need to confront, both individually and collectively. “The Haves and the Have Nots,” the steamy drama reminiscent of the legendary “Dallas” and “Dynasty” television shows, tackles not only the expected deceit and infidelity but also homosexuality. Continued on page 6


Tyler Perry Continued from page 4 DUS: How much of you is educator, entertainer and peacemaker? Perry: I think they are all equally important. I wouldn’t want to do this if I couldn’t leave a strong positive message in people’s hearts and leave them thinking in their minds. Perry’s characters are often flawed, as we all may be, but they have the commonality of being capable of good. In the O Magazine interview, Perry revealed that just prior to having his first successful runs of his play, he had an epiphany involving his father. After years of cowering to his father he stood up to him in a telephone conversation. His father told him he loved him, something that Perry had not heard before. At that moment, despite years of traumatic pain, he was grateful for his father who had made him what he was. DUS: What is the price for getting what you want? What values ring true for your characters? Perry: I think we all need to weigh the price for whatever we want. What I try to do in my work is be a beacon to show how to get it the right way. For Perry, finding the right way is often reflective of how he was shown

by his interactions with his mother, whom he spent the most time with away from his father. This is evident in the God-fearing Black women who dot his plays and screenplays. Madea is a strong personality as is Hanna the mother and hardworking domestic worker on “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and they all want the best for their families, often through struggle or sacrifice. DUS: Your television programs seem to feature and even be dominated by strong Black female characters. Why do you think this is what audiences want to see? Perry: I never thought about it in the since of what the audience wants to see, rather me being a story teller and most of my influences growing up were strong Black women. And people like to see themselves and their own faces on TV. Perry puts a lot of himself into his dramas. In the O Magazine interview we learned that he did not graduate from high school or college, and is essentially self-taught. Nevertheless he draws audiences around the country to his plays, programs and movies. He is a media mogul, and in June took steps to expand his brand and Tyler Perry Studios (TPS) in Atlanta with the purchase of 330 acres of land at the former Ft. McPherson Army base. The base was closed in 2011, leaving a

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deficit of some 7,000 civilian and military jobs. It is estimated that 5,000 jobs will come to the south Atlanta area when TPS is operational. Ten to 20 movies and television programs will be produced there. TPS will occupy most of the land on the nearly 500-acre former army base, with the rest of the development of some 145 acres being managed by the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA). Other development will be businesses that will support the studio and other mixed uses. DUS: What is your responsibility as a mogul? Perry: My new studio has my fullest attention right now as far as business goes. Turning 330-acre former army base into a movie studio takes some doing. That’s my next 24 months. I’m most excited about building something that my son can look at one day and know that his father made history. Perry is trying to stay ahead of the curve in a city that has become the Hollywood of the south. There is a pent-up demand for production facilities because of Georgia’s generous tax incentives for the film industry. Dormant factories have been razed and redeveloped into movie studios, and there are production houses rising all over the city. Amidst all of this, Perry believes in the importance of staying relevant. His films and television programs, whether he is in front of the camera or behind it, capture the lives of African Americans, from all walks of life and their everyday struggles, and his ongoing hope is that audiences will learn from them. DUS: You have this substantial platform. How do you keep it from being fleeting? Perry: I always try to infuse new ideas and life into what I’m doing. That’s why I go from movies to plays to TV and so on. I don’t want to stay in one lane too long. My responsibility as a human is the same as any other, to teach what I’ve learned and lift humanity as I go. Perry’s output is astounding. According to Box Office Mojo, since 2005 he has directed 16 films, grossing more than $740 million at the box office. That’s about one film a year. Even films which were considered less successful like last year’s, “Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club,” grossed at least $15 million at the box office. In 2014 Perry made Forbes magazine’s top 100 list of highest paid celebrities, ranked at number 56. Through all this Perry remains committed to his art and telling the stories he wants to tell. DUS: Through your media projects you wield a lot of power and influence. How do you stay humble?

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2015

Perry: Again, knowing that all I have comes from God, my mother’s lessons burn in my heart. This could all be gone tomorrow. And our final question reached out for future plans. DUS: What is next for Tyler Perry projects, theatre, film and business? Perry: I think people will be surprised with my next three movies. I’m going into some different directions. But I will never leave my base. It may be true that empires rise and fall. But there are few legacies like Perry’s. It is a story that has perhaps been steeped in traumatic pain, but also tremendous resilience. He has somewhat made peace with his past and at 46 is creating a future anchored in a new purpose, the only one that really matters.  Editor’s Note: Tickets are on sale now for “Tyler Perry’s Madea on the Run,” and range from $55-$75. For more information, visit www.artscomplex.com.

I’m coming and can’t wait to see all you Denver peoples!


At the Table with Black Chefs Three Men Living Their Dream By Charles Emmons Photos by Bernard Grant

J

ust over 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. He spoke of equality and freedom for all Americans. He also noted that Black mobility spanned one ghetto to another, and that as a race; we were still crippled by the manacles of segregation and discrimination. Since that historical day, his words have driven generations to pursue education, professions and businesses that would lead them to greater prosperity. Many times, that means traveling your own special path to live your dreams as exemplified by Chefs Daniel Young, Scott Durrah, and Donald James.

Chef Daniel Young

Chef Daniel Young, also known as Chef D, lists among his past and present clients, former Denver Nuggets players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. As a personal chef, he has cooked meals and designed nutrition plans for members of the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. At almost any time of the year, he can turn on the TV to watch a game and see the results of his trade in the performance of his clients.

Like other trades, there are formal schools and the school of experience and hard knocks. Young picked up a knife at a young age and followed in the footsteps of his father, who worked as a chef in schools and colleges throughout the state of Michigan. Because his father traveled for his job, the young Daniel prepared many of the meals at home for his five brothers and sisters. Seeing his talent, his father encouraged him as a teenager and eventually took him on the road. At 18 he says he dove right into it. Donald Frazier, a New-York based chef, met Young in segregated Battle Creek, Michigan and became his mentor, arranging for a scholarship to a culinary school in New York. But Young didn’t take to the formal train-

ing and embarked on a 10-year apprenticeship. He landed in Denver working at the Denver Country Club under a chef who didn’t like him in his kitchen. Young says that Frazier “made me very aware of the glass ceiling that I was running in to. I would insist on working in the best restaurants, country clubs hotels and there were just not a lot of Black opportunities at the time. He encouraged me to stay true to the trade and not get discouraged. He said it was probably going to take me longer to reach my goals than the average chef, but thought I was talented enough and said I just had to fight through it.” Most restaurants were unwilling to

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2016

tie their name and food reputation to an African American. Young says the time at the Denver Country Club was probably the worst six months of his life. He eventually secured his first management chef position at a sports club in Irvine, Calif. – a popular spot for celebrities and athletes. It was at that time he first considered meeting the needs of this client base as a business. Young, a former hurdler who almost made the 1984 Olympic trials, understood how to marry nutrition and physical activity. The buzz about his talent made its way around the Los Angeles Rams training camp, specifically that some of the players, including quarterback Jim Everett, were training with a chef. In 1992, Young became the youngest senior chef inducted into the Orange County Chefs Association. But despite the accolades, and having the title of executive chef, at times it was difficult in his kitchen. One day the food and beverage director put a Ku Klux Klan hat on his timecard. The ownership passed it off as an irresponsible joke. He was offended and his staff was offended by the manner in which the incident was not addressed. Young decided to leave. He knocked the wall down of the social stigma of being the “N” word in the kitchen. “Orange County was a stepping stone for me,” says Young, who admits the gesture hurt him. But he Continued on page 6


Chefs Living the Dream Continued from page 4 decided he wasn’t going to let it hurt him anymore. “That was so in my face, and I thought I‘ve got to have some pride here. I had to walk away,” he says. Young returned to Denver, and was hired by the University of Colorado Boulder to coach a hurdler, Donna Waller. While working with her, she won both the indoor and outdoor Big 8 championships. Recognizing that he had struck a chord, Young started marketing himself as a chef whose culinary skills enhanced the nutrition and performance of athletes. Young is all about helping his clients. With more than 31 years in the culinary industry he has developed a keen understanding of what it takes to be a successful chef. He has prepared food for thousands at the 2012 Democratic National convention in Charlotte, hundreds for the Obama inaugural dinner, and private meals for professional athletes. He has also owned two restaurants in Denver, Diced Onions and Fat Daddy’s – but he has found another calling. Most recently he has ventured into the food delivery service. Under the brand Chef D’Pure, meals are prepared in a commercial kitchen and

delivered to customers over a 350-mile radius in Colorado. His offerings include fresh healthy, restaurant quality food that retains its quality even after it has been microwaved. And it is delivered to their doorstep by 6 a.m. Young says he spent years looking at this side of the industry, before presenting a product he could consistently provide. This is not a diet plan, which he abhors. Rather he adapts and customizes to his clients’ lifestyles versus giving them one. Now in his 50s, Young has not slowed down. He keeps moving and is busy everyday taking care of his athletes and other businesses and clients. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge with other chefs and is scheduled to speak to a class at Johnson and Wales University early next year. He dispels the mythology of the tyrant chef and says he learns something new everyday and he will always remain true to the trade. Johnson says, “The private chef industry is still a mystery to a lot of people. Where are the guidelines? Where is the structure? And you really make your own structure. I think there is a level of respect that you have to have with your clients to the point they will trust you. For someone to trust you to put something in their mouth – that is the biggest responsibility you can have.”

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Chef Scott Durrah

Like Young, Chef Scott Durrah regularly prepared meals for professional athletes throughout his career. For two years he fed the Denver Broncos defense. A good friend of Young, Durrah jokes that Young fed the gazelles and he fed the bulls. The Nuggets would eat 3000 calories a day, whereas, Durrah would feed the Broncos 10,000 calories. Durrah has also owned and operated three highly rated restaurants, the first in Santa Monica, Calif., and the others in Denver. The current restaurant, Jezebel’s Southern Bistro and Bar, located in the busy LoHi neighborhood, has been in operation for three years. He and his wife, Wanda James, are known for their pioneering success in the cannabis business and as Colorado’s only African American owners of a dispensary and edibles company. Durrah’s Boston accent is noticeable as he relates the story about making jam in his Italian grandmother’s kitchen after picking concord grapes from the yard. Laughing, he recalls her walking in on him. “I guess you are going to be a chef,” she said. He took to cooking mostly for his friends throughout his teens. At 18 he headed to Jamaica, and lived there off and on for the next 10 years. “At that point, lo I worked with a lot of families, a lot of chefs, a lot of Rastafarians, grandmothers, learned all the recipes techniques, jerking and how to make jerk, and really fell in love with it.” This was probably the only time in his 20-year culinary career that he worked in someone’s kitchen. In 1999, he persuaded his wife to quit her corporate job and open a restaurant with him in Santa Monica. The Los Angeles Times named the Jamaican Café the best Caribbean restaurant in southern California. In Denver they opened 8Rivers LoDo, another Caribbean restaurant where they also held cooking classes. His restaurants became his learning ground and classroom.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2016

The foundation of Durrah’s cuisine was a marriage of his Italian heritage and his time in Jamaica. 8-Rivers closed in 2011, but he sought other opportunities in other venues. As residents of the LoHi neighborhood, the couple knew it was changing and they opened Jezebel’s, featuring a popular southern cuisine on 33rd and Tejon. The dispensary and edibles business also made its mark, and continues to evolve. Located a block from Jezebel’s, Simply Pure will offer cannabis cooking classes in a nearby coffee shop early next year. Durrah’s time with athletes and his time in Jamaica has led him to this new niche. He says Jamaicans, and in particular Rastafarians have been cooking with cannabis (the whole plant) for eons, and while there, he learned of its medicinal benefits. Prescription drugs are a daily regimen for many, but overtime many no longer want them because of longterm effects or they inhibit day-to-day functioning. Durrah has found cannabis can be a balance and alternative to these meds.

The usage of cannabis he teaches is not about getting high, and his great stories about cannabis edibles don’t involve brownies. “Unfortunately my great stories are about the people I’ve cooked for who have had serious dying ailments, from cancer, multiple sclerosis, to migraines, to PMS, to inflammation, to insomnia. I don’t get the calls of, ‘Hey I got friends coming over.’ I get the calls of, ‘Hey I am in chemo, and I am sick of this.’ Or I get the calls, ‘I am 50 years old and I am a very successful business person; I can’t take prescription drugs the rest of my life.’ ” While working with athletes he did a lot of juicing and preparation of organic foods. He noticed a marked effect on their ailments and performance. This led him to further examine on a culinary level the medicinal effects of other foods. He says every oil has a medicinal effect. The benefits of olive oil are well known, but


Durrah notes that coconut oil is good for inflammation Simply Pure products use infused butters and oils and range from marinara sauces to mango chutney, to curry and chili pastes that can be added to cooking. Helping people understand the benefits and uses of cannabis in this way, as a balance to other meds, is Durrah’s passion. “That’s really what it’s about at the end of the day – whether you are cooking chicken or cooking cannabis. If you have a purpose, everyone is going to have an opinion. And opinions are fine. My opinion is I have cooked for people who are dying, and I’ve cooked for people who are in pain. I’ve cooked for people who have migraine headaches and seizures and I have seen the results – and the results are all yes. It does help. It doesn’t cure, but it does help. Truly if you are looking for a better way of life and you do have some ailments it is a consideration. And cannabis, along with good healthy food, will help you feel better.” Durrah is a business owner who understands his role is not only to feed the public, but also to educate the public. “We ask for your support. Come tour the dispensary, ask questions, and get answers. It’s recreational for 21 and over. Come meet me and my wife.”

Chef Donald James

Chef Donald James is known for his smoked meats, turkey and ribs often found at seasonal festivals like Juneteenth, the Colorado Black Arts Festival and Five Points Jazz. He became interested in cooking at an early age. He recalls one Thanksgiving when at the age of six, he made butter by shaking heavy cream in a mason jar for three hours. After graduating from Montbello High School, James headed to Bethune-Cookman College to study hospitality and business. He found he

wasn’t ready for higher education and only stayed a year and spent the next few years traveling to states where he had family. Eventually he ended up in his birthplace of Omaha, Nebraska, where he took culinary training at the Aramark Advanced Culinary in Lincoln.

His company Pit Stop BBQ provides the meat for seasonal festivals, but if you have dined at The Grubbery, 8-Rivers LoDo, or the Peoria Bar and Grill in the Timbers Hotel, you have also tasted his dishes. He recently took the position as executive chef at the Holiday Inn Stapleton. James has also accompanied Young to cook for the Denver Nuggets. He feels fortunate to have had great mentors in his career who have shown him the ropes to success in the industry. James intends to maximize the opportunity and mesh it with his

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2016

future goals of finishing a business degree at Community College of Denver, obtaining a master’s degree in culinary and opening his own restaurant. From each culinary job experience he has taken that knowledge and moved forward. “I got rewards everywhere and I can’t say one is better than the other. It just comes with the process of being well rounded. Regardless of the position there will always be hard work that you have to put your heart in to. You’ve got to have a passion for it,” says James, who has been mentored by Young, Durrah and Joseph B. Wesley, a chef at the Timbers. In a novel take on paying it forward, he has an idea to leverage technology to create an online chef association where chefs can network, find work and clients can post jobs to bid on. So you think you can cook and want to be a chef? It’s more than impressing with fancy sauces and dishes. The profession requires humility, risk and drive to make a difference to your craft. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his famous speech, “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this nation.” These chefs are to be applauded for drawing from that vault and making their own deposits in their own special way.


Volume 29 Number 11 February 2016

Celebrating Black History

ANTHONY BROWNLEE RIDING

HIGH IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY...4

Anthony Brownlee - President/Managing Partner/General Manager of Land Rover Denver Photo by Bernard Grant


Anthony Brownlee His Story of Learning and Leading By Charles Emmons

When we reflect on the impact

Photos by Bernard Grant

of history, we may not consider the importance of our own stories. But, everyone’s story is significant. We know that everyone is not going to have their 15 minutes of fame, nor should we think this is an ultimate goal. There are no magic bullets to attain success. Hard work and belief in yourself are unmatched in getting there. Along the way it helps to have mentors who believe in you as well, and these mentors can be family, friends or business colleagues. Mentors need not look like us, and learning life’s lessons is not culturally dependent. As we go through rites of passage anyone can show us the way. Reaching our goals requires risk, drive as well as guidance. Sometimes the end isn’t clear and we just hang on and go for the ride. Anthony Brownlee is riding high in the automotive industry. As the president, managing partner and general manager of Land Rover Denver he and his team of more than 70 people are a significant piece of Vancouver, Wash.-based Kuni Automotive, one of the most successful auto sales groups in the country. Kuni dealerships employ nearly 1,000 people in 14 dealer stores in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and their “rooftops” as Brownlee calls them, cover the gamut of domestic and luxury vehicles, including Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Lexus and Porsche. With 10 years in the business in Colorado, Brownlee has made his mark. He was brought to Colorado in 2006 by Lithia Motors as a general manager of multiple locations, included the Volkswagen dealership on 104th Avenue as well as three other stores in other states. He started his career in California at a now defunct Saturn dealer in Cerritos and also worked at a Land Rover dealer in Orange County. Cars have always been in his blood. He learned to drive in the parking lot of the Forum in Inglewood, Cali. “I enjoyed the freedom aspect. Getting

my driver’s license my 16th birthday, pushing for it and saving as much money as you can in order to get your first vehicle,” says Brownlee. “That was kind of the drive.” But the auto industry was not Brownlee’s first venture. After two years at the University of Minnesota, he became an entrepreneur in the mortgage business and returned to his home state. Selling is selling right? Not quite. Brownlee’s success hasn’t necessarily come from classic selling, and he believes his mortgage business experience informs his business acumen in the auto industry. Both are major purchases in the journey and require similar tools. “A lot of people think that selling is persuading others to do something to buy your product or service. I’ve always been of the opinion that selling is listening and trying to meet or solve a particular problem or take care of someone’s needs. I’ve always had that

outlook on selling,” says Brownlee. He has brought that vision to Land Rover Denver, imparting his knowledge to his staff. “It starts with constant training and we are all trying to improve our skillset daily, but if you treat each potential customer as if they are a family member I think that sets the tone for doing the right thing and listening more than classic selling.” No one wants to be blindsided or talked into something that they don’t want or need especially on a major purchase like an automobile. Brownlee insists that his team has transparent conversations and resultant transactions. Every question and option should be explained and answered. “Any successful interaction, any meaningful interaction starts with listening. Any meaningful relationship starts with listening,’ says Brownlee. “We hope that everyone chooses to do business with us, but

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

even if you don’t, in all of our interactions we want to make sure we treat everyone with respect and give them a luxury experience.” There are numerous ways and places to acquire an automobile in the metro area. South Broadway, Denver’s motor mile, offers many luxury brands, including the Land Rover Denver store, and Brownlee is comfortable there and welcomes the competition. “From my perspective Land Rover is two extremes. It is extreme luxury and extreme adventure all in one package. Our vehicles are great to drive on the road and in our opinion unbeatable off-road.” Sales of new automobiles were up in 2015, including luxury models like Land Rover. Brownlee is in a good position. African Americans have a long history in the industry. The first documented sale by an African American of automobiles through a dealership arrangement was in 1936, and there was a time when they weren’t allowed to sell on the premises, only out of a briefcase. Over time their numbers have increased, especially in urban areas and the south. But the number of dealerships was reduced by half after the recent recession. As the domestic auto market tanked, many Blacks who had benefited from being in Detroit’s dealer training programs lost their stores. The atmosphere and market are a now a bit more hospitable. A proven leader, in the industry, Brownlee was selected by Kuni to run the Land Rover Denver dealership, which was consolidated in 2011 from a deal with the acquisition of Land Rover Denver East and Land Rover Highlands Ranch. Kuni had an opportunity to build a new flagship store for their Lexus brand, and Land Rover Denver was located on the old Kuni Lexus site. “I couldn’t be prouder of my teams and how they have come together in this location over the last two years,” he says. Brownlee, an equity-managing partner, continues to learn from the Kuni leadership as he leads what is technically the largest stand-alone Land Rover franchise in North America. CEO Greg Goodwin leads the Kuni


Automotive Group, but Brownlee also counts the late Joe Herman as a significant mentor. Herman was Kuni’s executive vice president, with more than 40 years of experience in automobile sales, and prior to his passing in October 2014 had doubled the group’s sales. It was natural for Brownlee to emulate his entrepreneurial example. The biggest changes in the industry are in technology, but the building of relationships with his leadership, employees, and customers remains a key element. “I think the number one thing was they re-affirmed that they were individuals who shared my values when it came to their outlook on business, life and customer service,” says Brownlee of his mentors. “Within Kuni Automotive, Wayne Kuni had a saying. ‘If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your guests and the rest will take care of itself.’ So we are not perfect, but we always try to improve every single day.” The automobile business is competitive both between manufacturers and internally, and the revenue potential is significant. But in a Kuni dealership the tone is different. Before founder Wayne Kuni passed away in 2006, his stake in the company was earmarked in creating the Wayne Kuni Foundation, which is dedicated to funding cancer research and helping

developmentally disabled adults live semi-independently. “Our facility that was built by the Wayne Kuni Foundation is called Stephen’s Place. It opened its doors a little over a year ago,” says Brownlee. “And so, all of our employees know that they are working in concert to give back to the community on an ongoing basis.” Giving back to the community and being a part of the community is ingrained, because it is the right thing to do. Locally, Brownlee has supported Project Angel Heart, and Wine Women and Football. He is on the Denver board of the American Cancer Society, the board of Colorado Auto Dealers Association and was appointed by the governor to the Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Dealer Board. Brownlee gives a nod to former two-time Denver mayor, Wellington Webb, who has been an informal mentor. “How he takes care of the community has really inspired me,” says Brownlee, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity since 1991. But with these accolades and being the recipient of the Kuni dealer group award named in honor of his mentor Herman, he is remarkably modest. He has come far from his middle class upbringing in Inglewood and Gardena, Cali. He comes from a family of educators. Both his parents were both public school teachers and his

brother is a teacher and high school basketball coach in Lawndale, Cali. The guidance he received when he was younger stuck with him. “We never believed in limits, and that you could accomplish anything with hard work and dedication,” says Brownlee. Sound advice, but for some it’s daunting to implement. Brownlee imparts his vision throughout his organization. He leads, but everyone represents. “I try to encourage our entire team as individuals, for them each to be the face of our dealership when they are out there in the community interacting with our guests and with each other, to bear in mind that we represent Land Rover Denver.” Brownlee understands that the success of Land Rover Denver is not all about him. Acquiring inventory, managing daily operations, growing the service and parts department, all towards increasing sales is his focus. But none of that is possible without working with a great group of people. “To me it’s really all about my team. You asked about leadership earlier. I think the quality of any organization is about its people. That’s the foundation of it all. As a leader you help your people run faster so that they can achieve what is important to them, and everything else comes together.”

Letters to the Editor continued from page 3 and Democrats, and for all 50 states. They are issues that deeply affect Denver, and hundreds of other parts of the country, urban and rural alike. Hillary Clinton has a plan, and hers is the best combination of experience and passion to end mass incarceration, restore criminal justice, and reduce the senseless violence that occurs when guns get into the wrong hands. Editor’s note: Wellington E. Webb, the first African American mayor of Denver served 1991 to 2003.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

GUIDE


The political season is here. Most of the media focus is on the national race for the presidency. More strident utterances and

Black Women Vying to Shape COLORADO’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

accusations make the

By Charles Emmons

headlines coming out of the debates and the Twitter accounts of the candidates. Hillary Clinton has work to do, if she is to become the first woman president. History will be made if she is successful. But politics is local, and nine African American women in the Denver metro area are poised to make their own history. As the demographics of the city and suburbs change, there are more opportunities for seats in the different legislative and policymaking bodies – a handful have come before them, and their names are well known…Vikki Buckley, Wilma Webb, Gloria Tanner, Elbra Wedgeworth, Happy Haynes, Rosemary Marshall, Edna Mosley . Now, another generation of candidates is looking out for your interests in the role of government, keeping you safe, facilitating economic growth and educating your children. We asked them three questions to give readers insight into who they are and what they will do if elected. Some of their answers have been edited for length, but every effort was made not to change context or meaning. Question 1: Politics are local. What experience do you bring to be an effective lawmaker or policy maker to solve problems in our communities, and why are you the best person to fill the seat you are seeking? Question 2: What is your plan to make our communities better and participants in Colorado’s prosperity? Question 3: Who are your political (s)heroes and why?

RHONDA FIELDS, 62 Colorado State Senate, District 29 State Rep. Rhonda Fields was first elected to serve the Colorado House of Representatives for the 68th General Assembly in 2010. She is the first African-American woman elected to the state legislature to represent Aurora’s House District 42,

Arapahoe County. In November 2014, she was reelected to her third term. Personal tragedy drove her into politics when her son Javad and his fiancée were killed prior to his testifying in a murder trial. She fought to pass House Bill 1379, which was designed to help ensure the safety of witnesses. The bill was passed and named the Javad Marshall Fields & Vivian Wolfe Witness Protection Act. It is in memory of her son’s courage, confidence and heroism that she founded the Fields Wolfe Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization designed exclusively to promote academic excellence, civic engagement and community service. #1) During my three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives, I have worked hard to bring smart, innovative and effective approaches to government. I have led on passing legislation to strengthen ours schools, champion equal rights, create safer communities, and promote access to affordable housing and health care. Despite personal threats, I continue to stand up to the most extreme wing of the NRA and led the effort to pass groundbreaking gun safety legislation. Colorado needs bold progressive leadership that will not be afraid to confront the challenges we face. I will be that fighting voice. #2) I will invest in people and protect the values we share – justice, fairness and community. This means protecting our air, water and land. It means fighting for an economy allowing every Coloradoan to share in our growth and prosperity. It means strengthening our system of education so that children have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. As Democrats, we know that a strong middle class means a stronger nation. Clearly Colorado needs a champion – a leader who will push open doors to create ladders of opportunity for families and individuals alike. We owe it to the next generation to level the playing field, and I will never stop fighting for our children’s futures. #3) Apart from several local leaders who all have played an instrumental role in shaping my political perspective like the Honorable Wilma Webb,

Senator Gloria Tanner, State Rep. Rosemary Marshall and City Councilwoman Edna Mosley, my heroes growing up were the architects of the civil rights movement. I admire people like Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley. All of these leaders demonstrated to me that progressive social change was not confined to the streets, and that true activism could also be practiced in the courtroom and legislature. Because of these amazing individuals – I can stand up and speak up!

ANGELA WILLIAMS, 52 Colorado State Senate, District 33 Angela Williams is a significant leader in the Colorado State House. Representing District 7, she is the Majority Caucus chair, founder and chair of the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus, and was recently appointed as the co-chair of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Business and Economic Development Committee. Before pursuing a life in public service, Williams was the principal owner of the Angela Williams Allstate Insurance Agency for 14 years. She is now the principal of AW Consulting Inc. Williams worked to protect Colorado children’s educational futures by successfully opposing legislation that would cut school breakfast subsidies. In addition, Williams’ efforts have focused on helping homeowners experiencing enormous financial burdens. She sponsored legislation expanding the state’s foreclosure deferment program and introduced the Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program Bill. She also helped negotiate $4.6 million in foreclosure mitigation funds from the U.S. attorney general’s office. #1) I have strived to listen to my neighbors’ concerns and then take action. As a mother, I will always emphasize the importance of education. I was the prime sponsor on the

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2016

ASSET bill that ensured Colorado high school students have access to instate tuition. I will fight to increase school funding, and to make college more affordable and accessible. In 2015, I worked to tackle the distrust between our community and police and passed six bills with bi-partisan support that improved training requirements, brought transparency and required the use of body cameras. I will continue to work with community members, leaders and police officers on these important issues. #2) Having been a business owner, I am an active supporter of small businesses and passed bills encouraging growth and reducing barriers to their success. I will continue to help grow our economy and create more high paying, local, jobs. We must concentrate on rebuilding the middle class, and reinforcing the American Dream through increasing access to education and creating an economy working for everyone. In 2015, I introduced and passed legislation which created a grant program to close an information gap – the lack of public awareness of the available good jobs in certain industries. I will continue to fight for equity in state procurement contracts, equal pay, and higher minimum wages. #3) Michelle Obama is my political hero. She is a strong, smart and articulate African American woman who represents community. During her time in the White House she has made progress on issues important to working families such as education, healthy families, and higher education.

KHADIJA KATHERINE HAYNES, 57 Colorado State Senate, District 33 Khadija Katherine Haynes is a native of Denver and a fourth generation Coloradoan. Haynes has been politically active in the Denver community for more than 40 years, having worked in various political campaigns ranging from school Continued on page 4


Black Women Continued from page 2 boards to initiatives and referred measures to presidential campaigns. Haynes is currently a principal at KSolutions, a political consulting, lobbying and public relations firm. She cofounded The Urban Farm, a nonprofit organization that teaches agricultural and environmental education to highrisk urban youth. Haynes served as a Gubernatorial Appointee to the Board of Directors of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District; Mayoral Appointee to the Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; President of Colorado Black Women for Political Action; Co-Chair of the Citizens Advisory Board for the Stapleton Development Corporation and is on the Board of Directors of the National Western Stock Show #1) Born into a multi-generational political and activist family, I was raised in the “family business.” At 18, I registered with the Democratic Party and within weeks was appointed to the Denver Democratic Party Central Committee – the youngest appointee ever. I served as the director of operations of the governor’s office during the Romer Administration. I recently served as both the policy director and the chief of staff of the Colorado Senate Majority. I have a command of

policy issues ranging from affordable housing to transportation, agriculture to economic development, and arts to mental health. I have working knowledge and experience in representing my community in many arenas. My roots and commitment are deep and strong. #2) Access to and the acquisition of livable-wage jobs, quality education, affordable housing, meaningful health care (including mental health) and fresh food are priorities. I plan to work steadfastly in these areas. Additionally, I’ll focus on transportation, sensible economic development and strengthening neighborhoods. I plan to draw on my own experiences and the wisdom of community members and others to contribute to visioning and planning processes, which will influence outcomes for citizens in Senate District 33. The district is quite diverse which brings great opportunity for creative problem solving and the challenge not to settle for “one size fits all” solutions. #3) My list of s/heroes is long and each one I admire has given me an invaluable piece of wisdom that I have woven into the fabric of my political life. Perhaps, not surprisingly, at the top of my list is my mother, Anna Jo Garcia Haynes. Though she has never held elected office, her dedication to the enrichment of this district, this

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city, this state and our country is beyond what most may know. Her moral compass and humility have guided my life and have set a high bar that I strive for every day. Because of her, I am proud to be in the “family business.”

ELET VALENTINE, 42 Colorado House of Representatives, District 7

Elet Valentine is a native of Denver and grew up in the Northeast Denver neighborhoods of Cole, Park Hill, and now lives in the Montbello neighborhood. In 1996, Valentine obtained her bachelors of arts degree in behavioral science with a minor in criminal justice from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She currently pursues graduate studies in marriage and family therapy. Valentine spent the last 11 years as a small business owner of Valentine Bail Bonds, L.L.C., as a bail bond and recovery agent and enjoys giving back to the community and social justice issues. Other endeavors included giving Thanksgiving baskets to the elderly, advocating for children with special needs in her community, and volunteering her time at other community non-profits. #1) As a bail agent for nearly 13 years, I gained experience reading statutes, regulations, policies, writing court motions, and defending those actions in various judicial jurisdictions across the State of Colorado. I have been politically active within the Democratic Party as a Precinct Committee Person (PCP) and given testimony in front of committees at the State Legislature, Denver City Council meetings and the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. At the Citizen Oversight Board, A+ meeting I proposed an alternative plan to the closure of Montbello High School and publicly commented for the final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the I-70 expansion plan, and in various community meetings. #2) The Black community is at a systematic disadvantage on many fronts in the areas of economics, education, criminal justice, and healthcare. For any piece of legislation to work efficiently the system in which we operate, it must be changed. My number one priority is improving the economic system to encompass diversity and inclusion. The State of Colorado must take the first step and be a representation for its citizens. To accomplish this challenging task, legislation must be proposed and passed to make it mandatory for anyone doing business directly and indirectly with the

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2016

State of Colorado, at a minimum, the company’s labor force, should be representative of Colorado’s demographic ratio. #3) I cannot name one political hero. I believe that any person who stands up against political oppression no matter the form is a hero. It takes a lot of courage to stand by yourself, speak out against opposition, stay consistent, and stand firm in their beliefs. Those are the people I look up to.

MICHELE WHEELER, 60+ Colorado House of Representatives, District 7

Michele Wheeler has served actively with various community organizations, and has also had a long career in the health care industry, as well as government and public institutions. Soon after graduating from Denver East High School, she moved to Washington, D.C. to attend the School of Radiologic Technology at Freedman’s Hospital. In 1979, she returned to Denver and completed her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and later earned her master’s degree in urban and regional planning. Wheeler made a substantial shift in her focus and worked in the Park Hill neighborhood as the community justice advocate for approximately four years. She was also employed by the Denver District Attorney’s Office as a gun violence prevention coordinator, a position that focused on gun violence prevention strategies in the Northeast Park Hill, Cole, and Montbello neighborhoods. After leaving the district attorney’s office in 2008, Wheeler worked parttime for the Stapleton Foundation, the Colorado Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute and the Office of the Independent Monitor. #1) My education, experience, and record of working in this community and the district for more than 20 years make me the best person to fill the House District 7 State Representative seat. I have been president of the Northeast Park Hill Coalition since 2003. I was a community research liaison for the Department of Family Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus identifying health disparities. I was employed by the Independent Monitor as their community outreach ombudsman, arranging mediations of complaints about the police and sheriff personnel. #2) My plan will be and has always been to help people achieve their goals and dreams by helping them to improve their quality of life, providing our communities with the opportunity


to make themselves better and participants in Colorado’s prosperity. I believe if the opportunity is not there, one cannot prosper or it becomes extremely difficult to do so. I will be a voice at the table, hopefully the jointbudget committee table, advocating for opportunities and services for you. My door will always be open. Better schools? Better housing? Better jobs? Better access? Better environment? Together we can do this. #3) My s(heroes) include Rep. Rhonda Fields for her faith, integrity, strength of character and witness protection legislation for others; Rep. Angela Williams for her respect and ability to garner bi-partisan support for legislation; Attorney Linda Lee for her strong legal mind; Dr. Marilyn Mills-Walker for her strong medical mind; Former Sen. Gloria Tanner as the first African American woman senator in Colorado, who sponsored legislation on civil rights for women; and former Rep. Wilma Webb for her tenacity in establishing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Colorado.

LESLIE HEROD, 33 Colorado House of Representative, District 8

Leslie Herod is passionate about making a difference in the community through advocacy and civic engagement. This passion grew from a very early age as she watched her mother who was an officer in the Army Nurse Corps serve her family, community and nation. Herod graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she was elected president of the Student Union’s Legislative Council and made it her mission to create a campus climate that was inclusive of all students regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, gender or ability. After graduating, she continued to work in public

service at the Colorado State Capitol. Under strong leaders such as former Speaker Andrew Romanoff, former Majority Leader Alice Madden, former House District 8 Rep. Rosemary Marshall and Deputy Mayor Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Herod gained direct experience in public policy. Later, Herod served as a senior policy advisor to Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr., specializing in social services, criminal justice, mental health, specific issues relating to senior citizens, and antipoverty issues. She met regularly with legislators and constituents to contribute to the creation of just and clear policy and laws. After leaving government service, Herod became a program officer with the Gill Foundation where she led philanthropic initiatives focusing on LGBT equality and alliance-building in communities of color. She serves on multiple community boards and commissions and recently, formed a strategic planning and community partnership consulting firm. #1) Dedicating my life and career to finding real solutions to the problems facing our state and our community, and utilizing my public policy education and experience, I have worked on positive change initiatives-including the Five Points Main Street Initiative and free breakfast programs for our kids. I worked with the Colorado executive and legislative branches making an impact on issues in social services, criminal justice reform, behavioral health, issues facing seniors and long-term solutions to address our homeless population. Not only have I worked on these issues at the policy level, I volunteer my time in the schools and with homeless youth to determine how we can keep improving. I will put this experience, my passion, and my dedication to our community to work as a state legislator. #2)) Knocking on doors across the district and attending community meetings, I hear consistently that peo-

ple want safe neighborhoods, good quality schools and opportunities to participate in Colorado’s economic growth. I will advance policies that keep us safe and at the same time advance sensible criminal justice reform and combat mass incarceration. Further, the key to any thriving strong community is good quality schools. I will fight to ensure that all our kids receive the quality education that they deserve. Finally, we must create an economic environment where small businesses can thrive and where all members of our community benefit from economic prosperity, not being pushed out of our neighborhoods. I will fight for this. #3) Honorable Rosemary Marshall and Honorable Gloria Tanner are my heroes for many reasons. As Black female leaders, they did not just break barriers, they committed and continue to commit their time and energy to fighting for justice and to ensure coming generations have the best opportunity to succeed. I stand on their shoulders. All of these women have brought positive changes to their communities in numerous ways. And their responses show a passionate eagerness to take their commitments to the next level. The November election is only 8 months away. While that may seem like a long time, there is little time to waste. Make a point to get to know these women and the other candidates in your district. If these women are elected, it will be historical. As the metro area changes it is vitally important to stay connected. Attend meetings; follow them on social media; ponder your selection and then vote in November.

JANET BUCKNER, 69 Colorado House of Representative, District 40

Rep. Janet P. Buckner was elected by a vacancy committee in July 2015 to serve the remainder of the term of her late husband, John W. Buckner, representing House District 40 in southern

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2016

Aurora. She is a member of the Health, Insurance & Environment and Education Committees. Rep. Buckner retired from a professional career in 2007 after more than three decades in medical sales, training doctors and other hospital personnel as well as other sales representatives. She has promised to be an advocate on women’s health issues. Early in her career she worked for several years as a speech and language therapist. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. #1) I have lived in Aurora since 1975. The Colorado way of life is one that I have known for 25 years now. My experience in education and the medical field led me to be an advocate for marginalized members of society. My husband John was principal of Overland High School and together we were deeply involved in our community and had an open door policy at our home. Now my open door policy carries over into my life as a legislator. I am always excited to hear from my constituents and look forward to continuing to be a voice for my neighbors. #2) This session I am sponsoring several bills that level the playing field and ensure everyone’s shot at success. The House recently passed my first bill, Parental Involvement, which allows parents to take unpaid leave to attend important academic activities. Additionally, I am co-sponsoring a bill that ensures businesses that receive state contracts pay men and women equally for the same work. I am also working on a bill that creates a publicprivate partnership allowing employees not currently offered access to a workplace retirement plan to save for their future. These bills prepare workContinued on page 6


Black Women Continued from page 5 ing families to lead stronger more economically stable lives, which in turn helps the economy and the community as a whole. #3) My (s)heroes include Gloria Tanner, Rosemary Marshall, and Wilma Webb, three African American women who served in the Colorado Legislature. All three of these women worked hard to pave the way for women like me to continue to serve Colorado. They made tremendous contributions to Colorado, and because of their dedication, I’m now fortunate enough to represent House District 40. I hope to use that good fortune to improve the lives of hardworking families in Aurora and across the state.

DOMINIQUE JACKSON, 55 Colorado House of Representatives, District 42

Dominique Jackson currently sits as a commissioner on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Housing & Community Development for the City of Aurora. In this role, the board votes to fund various projects and developments to ensure the availability of quality, affordable housing; to create opportunities for locally-owned small business to get started and grow; and to help insure quality of life for all Aurora residents. Jackson was appointed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and re-appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to serve on the Commission on Homelessness. She was appointed and reappointed to serve on to the Sustainability Advisory Council by Mayor Hancock. Jackson is interested in learning more about people, business and her neighbors; she has participated in several leadership training opportunities including: Leadership Aurora, Leadership Denver, Congressional Black Caucus Leadership Institute, and Emerge America. #1) I am running to represent my neighbors in North Aurora because many of the issues we face can only be changed at the state level. I am uniquely qualified because I have personally experienced many similar struggles. I’ve served on the board of Aurora@Home, the Commission on Homelessness, and the Sustainability and Advisory Commission and El Centro Humanatario. These positions require an ability to bring consensus to complicated problems.

#2) My plan is to focus on three main issues: education, attainable housing and amending TABOR. Empowering our teachers also empowers our students. We need to listen to our teachers to find out what’s working and what’s not working. It is essential for our citizens to be able to afford a place to live and I believe the ability to own a home is critical to growing a strong middle class. It’s unfortunate our fast growing economy is hampered by TABOR. We must address the “Hospital Provider Fee” issue to free up space in our budget. #3) Children, especially, don’t know who they “can be” or what they can do if they don’t get a chance to “look over the fence.” I was lucky enough to see Shirley Chisholm on TV one day. And surely, the fact that she was a Black was the first things I noticed. But ever so the researcher, I started looking into her life and discovered that she became the person she was, not just because of her strong sense of fighting for what she believed was right (a trait I too possess), but simply, because she loved others.

NAQUETTA RICKS, 48 Colorado House of Representatives, District 42

Naquetta Ricks is a longtime Aurora resident, small businesswoman, innovative and strong community leader, parent, and graduate of the University of Colorado Denver Business School. As our state recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Colorado working families look for leaders who will focus on giving their children access to tools they need to compete in the 21st century. With a background in auditing and finance gained through her work with Lockheed Martin, Regional Transportation District (RTD) and US West, Ricks hopes to bring that vital experience to ensure that the state legislature is accountable to Colorado taxpayers. Ricks is treasurer of the 6th Congressional District and a member of the Central Committee. She is a member of the African Leadership Group and the Women Empowerment Group, working professionals serving the immigrant community by helping individuals integrate into American society. #1) For more than 18 years, I have worked in complex industries – transportation, defense, information technology and real estate. I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting from Metro State University and my MBA from the University of Colorado

Denver. As a business owner, I bring business expertise to the community. I served on the board of the Aurora Public School Educational Foundation. I am a past board member of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials Colorado and in 2015 I was appointed to the City of Aurora Citizen’s Advisory Committee. I am the president of the newly formed African Chamber of Commerce of Colorado-USA. I also served as treasurer of the African-American Initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party. #2) I believe being raised in Aurora makes me best qualified to address the needs and issues of North Aurora in House District 42. There are many challenges and opportunities with its cultural diversity and more than 136 languages spoken in Aurora Public Schools. Immigrants and refugees comprise a large percentage of the population in Aurora, yet our concerns are not heard in the State Capitol. I will champion the cause of educational issues for our children.

Low graduation and high dropout rates combined with a lack of funding has plagued some APS schools. I will champion small business development, which is important to our economic prosperity and affordable housing development in Aurora. #3) My first (s)hero is my mother who was a progressive entrepreneur. Her work with the United Nations and the World Health Organization brought justice for the needs of the less fortunate in Liberia and around the world. Ella Jo Baker was a brilliant black woman whose legacy inspired a whole generation. Others include Ida B. Wells-Barnett who’s passion for Justice was uncompromising; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected Black female president of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner; Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize; and Rep. Rhonda Fields for her passion for justice and fairness and for doing the right thing.

Editor’s Note: Just as we are proud of the African American women who are striving to make a difference (and history) in their communities, we are also proud of the African American men looking to serve Colorado communities.

TONY EXUM, HOUSE DISTRICT 17 Tony Exum Sr. was elected in 2012 to represent House District 17 in southeastern Colorado Springs. A retired battalion chief in the Colorado Springs Fire Department, he spent 35 years making his city safer. According to his website, Rep. Exum believes opportunity must be available to all Coloradans, not just the privileged few, he will fight to make sure Colorado tax dollars are creating Colorado jobs that can’t be outsourced and he knows that if the next generation is going to compete in a global economy, we need to invest in Colorado classrooms, not protect special interest tax loopholes. Rep. Exum lives in Colorado Springs. His son Tony Jr. is a noted jazz saxophonist.

ERIC NELSON, HOUSE DISTRICT 42 Eric D. Nelson, Ph.D., is a life visionary, entrepreneur, former educator, and veteran community and political organizer. He currently serves his community as a member of the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education and served his country in the U.S. Air Force. Although his service on the school board has been a rewarding and informative experience, Nelson has found that there are many barriers to improving the school learning environment. As a state representative, he hopes to sweep away those barriers and give more children the opportunity to achieve the education and experiences they need to reach their full potential. As a small business owner and banker, he understands that a strong middle class is key to the overall economic health of our state. Dr. Nelson earned a B.A. in psychology from Southeastern University, a Master of Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University, an MBA from Northeastern University, and a doctorate in organizational psychology from Southeastern University in Washington, D.C. Nelson has extensive experience working with young people as a volunteer and mentor through his present service as a school board member and past service as a board member for Bennie E. Goodwin AfterSchool Academic Program, a youth civic engagement nonprofit. He is also a minister and elder at the Potter’s House Church of Denver. Nelson moved to Colorado in 2000 from his native Georgia. He lives in Aurora with his three children and wife, Laura.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2016


Black Elk Speaks… a Different View of History A

By Charles Emmons

s Denver changes and

grows, its past is more hidden. New buildings dwarf the old, and as we move further into the 21st century, without effort, Colorado’s history becomes more a distant memory. Who was here when it was carved out? What sacrifices were made? Who benefitted? Who lost? What are the residual outcomes today? The story of the American West has been romanticized in books and especially film. It’s how most have learned about this time in history. Hollywood for the most part has chosen to marginalize and paint indigenous people with one broad brush. Rarely has the story of the West been told from the perspective of Native Americans, with rich spiritual and cultural traditions, which populated the lands Christopher Columbus ‘discovered.’ Black Elk Speaks, a production of the Aurora Fox Arts Center, is a re-telling of the story that recounts the history of Native Americans from the arrival of Columbus through escalating incidents like the Sand Creek Massacre culminating in Wounded Knee. The story is told on stage through the voice of Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux, seer and medicine man. The play was first produced in 1995 at the Denver Center Theatre. At the time renowned director, donnie betts, was a member of the company, and he watched it from the wings. The play is based on the book, Black Elk Speaks by John G.Neihardt, and was adapted by Christopher Sergel. “They originated the piece from the book. The playwright actually passed away before the play was finished,” says betts. “So Donovan Marley who was the artistic director of the Denver Center and (I’m thinking) the widow completed the script. And then from there they did a production here in Denver with an allnative cast. Most of the actors were from Canada.” Black Elk Speaks has only been produced three times previously. The Aurora Fox chose betts to direct this

production. “The cast all being from the Denver area, is for me is what makes it very exciting, rather than having to go outside of Colorado to cast a show,” says betts. “And with the exception of one person they are all Native American.” As a young boy, Black Elk had visions of the decimation of his people, but being guided and protected by the spirits of his grandfathers, he survived numerous confrontations to tell the stories, even Wounded Knee. The play is a telling of the stories of various Native American chiefs and their people, including Red Cloud (Cheyenne), Manuelito (Navajo), Little Crow (Santee), and Crazy Horse (Lakota). Starting with the Tainos who met Columbus, it recounts the trust, mistrust, and betrayal that Native Americans across the continent experi-

enced as their land was taken and their people slaughtered. The mechanism for the narrative is an adaptation of these histories taken from the book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Although this was made into a movie, it tells the story of the demise of one chief and his people. In the play, Black Elk Speaks, his daughter, Lucy, encourages Black Elk to tell the story of Native Americans to a younger generation, in part because her son is misguided by the education of white boarding schools. This issue of not telling the whole story is still prevalent. Sarah Ortegon, an accomplished visual artist and former Miss Native American USA, plays Lucy. “I’ve been raised in Denver my whole life. I have gone back and forth to the reservation in the summers, and then I come back to the city,” says Ortegon.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2016

“And I never learned any Native American history throughout my whole entire schooling except for Thanksgiving. And I didn’t learn the whole truth about Thanksgiving.” The telling of these stories to current and future generations is crucial. Interestingly both Sarah and fellow cast member Cosme Duarte (Red Cloud) commented that the impact of genocide among Native Americans was not on their minds until viewing the groundbreaking film about the Holocaust, “Schindler’s List.” Historic trauma and blood memory crept in. As youth, not growing up on reservations or disconnected from parents, they found themselves outside of their traditions and cultures. This play gives them a chance to re-connect and re-energize. “For me this play has really just lit my heart on fire in a lot of ways, because not only do I get to do what I like to do…speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves, but in such a powerful way, with this play,” says Duarte. “I get to speak for 100 million people in two-and-a-half hours with my actions and with my words and maybe we can’t get everybody’s story out there, maybe we can’t reach everybody but the energy we have in this play has given me… has really turned me into a 20-year-old guy again.” Native American chiefs were often young men, leading and protecting their people while in their 30s and 40s. Black Elk is older and has seen much in his life both through his visions and the trauma of death. Doug Good Feather, a Lakota, who has experienced his own trauma, having served two tours in Iraq in the Army, portrays him. For him becoming a warrior is a rite of passage, but the concept of the native warrior is different from western European definitions. “There are other rites of passage, a warrior society where back then you would learn how to defend the people, how to take care of them, how to keep order, how to be a teacher, how to be a hunter and provide not just for the family but for the people. And today we still have that, and believe


that,” says Good Feather. The Native American portrayed in the play were warriors peaceable, who protected their people first through treaties and negotiation, and when that was squandered, an aggressive defense became their only option, as their land was taken in the name of progress and personal wealth. The point of Black Elk Speaks is for audiences to learn the truth. At the same time of the Civil War, the West was opening up, and so many Native Americans lost their lives, killed by the blue coats, as they were called, and not just the brave warriors, but also the vul-

nerable, women, children and the elderly. There are 16 cast members in the ensemble; the youngest is nine. When the massacres are re-enacted, you cringe from the sounds of gunfire. It’s difficult to watch as the bodies fall into the dirt and when this young actress fall the emotions well up inside you. But as with many stories hope is offered in the end. After the scene of the Wounded Knee Massacre, at the conclusion of the play, this same young girl is offered a cup of water in a wooden bowl, a symbol of giving life, “to make live!” the entire cast chants moving forward on the stage.

“We want to entertain, enlighten and bond the community together. This show, probably more than any that we have produced in a long time is much more about confronting our history, confronting what happened, more than it is about entertainment value, said Charles Packard, executive producer, Aurora Fox. “There is beautiful singing; there is beautiful dancing; there is amazing story telling. But all of those things are there to give you a context of who the people were and are, rather than it is to entertain you the way a Broadway kick line does. And I hope that there is a bonding effect. When people sit in an audience and watch a play, they laugh and they cry and they applaud, and regardless of whether you know the people or not, you have that shared common experience, that momentary experience. I hope that they feel the bonding experience with the Native Americans that are certainly on the stage and hopefully in the audience, and that some commonality is found.” ditor’s note: Experience Black Elk Speaks on the weekends through April 10. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays. For tickets and more information, visit www.aurorafoxartscenter.org or call 303739-1970.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2016


Najee Starts 30 Year Celebration Tour in Denver...By Charles Emmons

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hether you are an R&B or jazz fan, his music is familiar to everyone. Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Najee marks 30 years since Najee’s Theme debuted him as a solo artist and he celebrated with a multi-city tour that started at the Soiled Dove Underground on March 12. Although he doesn’t get to Denver often, after a brief hiatus, he says it’s a great place to warm up for his tour. “It’s good to get some of the cobwebs out in a venue like this,” Najee said. On March 19, he shared the stage with Aretha Franklin, Kool and the Gang, and Usher in Miami with guest performers Regina Belle and Alex Bugnon. The tour is reflective of where he has been and where he is musically. Although he is credited with growing the smooth jazz genre, he says that 30 years ago when he fused jazz and R&B on this first solo project Najee’s Theme, that wasn’t his primary intent. Before Najee, there was George Benson, Grover Washington Jr. and David Sanborn in the smooth jazz vein, so he doesn’t take credit for creating the genre. “When my time came in the mid to late 80’s, there was a void. There was an audience for people who wanted instrumental music,” said Najee. “The industry had gone into a serious decline, and as an artist I naturally gravitated to jazz and R&B, growing up in New York City.” His music education and career has run the gamut of genres. A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, as a teenager Najee participated in Dr. Billy Taylor’s New York Jazzmobile project, where he was deeply schooled in the fundamentals of jazz by Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, and Frank Foster. But Najee and his brother Fareed grew up in the same neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens, as Marcus Miller and Omar Hakim, the drummer with Sting and Weather Report. Musical tastes were as diverse as the neighborhood, and as a kid Najee played R&B.

“So when I did my first album in 1986, it was a conscious decision to create an R&B album with a saxophone. The world called it jazz. I didn’t feel that way about it because I am a jazz musician, and I know what its like to play with changes, and play standards. I played in big bands and so I understand the music well. But I made a conscious decision that I was making a commercial record because of the time and it was hugely successful.” His success can be attributed to his musical nature. At the age of 18, he and his brother toured with the USO, and his career went to another level when he joined Chaka Khan’s band in 1983. “I have been very fortunate to play with top R&B artists as well as top jazz artists.” Najee is one of the most sought out working musicians. The list includes Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Larry Carlton recording live at the Greek Theater in California. “That band was really one that did everything. There are recordings of things that were not released – you know really stretching out – going “Deeply

in the Trane.” So for me I have to do collaborations.” Najee also recorded and toured with Prince for three years, and appears on Prince’s albums Rainbow Children and One Night Alone. He considers Prince one of the greatest musicians and artists of our time, and one admired by numerous contemporaries. “George Benson gave him a guitar that he loved and played onstage every night,” said Najee. “When I got with him, we were in Paisley Park at 2 a.m. and he was just playing and going and ripping up things and there was no audience, and he was just doing his thing trying to find new stuff. And it was incredible. I was highly impressed.” These collaborations have been the signature of Najee’s career and he is keenly aware and conscious of that core audience that has purchased his records and brought him success. He says he fits well into the jazz genre, but his core audience that sticks with him is R&B, and that is why he is invited to numerous types of music festivals. Collaborations that are most dear to him were with the late George Duke. “I miss George. We toured all over the world together, and he was one of the greatest people that I enjoyed collaborating with. You always felt free with him. He came to wherever you were musically, and I loved that about him.” Musically Najee covered the entire spectrum at his tour launch performance at the Soiled Dove Underground. He inter-mixed his standards with songs from his new project TBD. Songs included a slow jam tribute to Earth Wind and Fire as well as “Sweet Love,” made famous by Anita Baker. The dynamic stage presence of RiShon Odell Northington and Chuck Johnson with lightning fast bass lines and lead guitar licks were reminiscent of the best funk bands. Najee’s instrument of

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2016

choice for the evening was his trademark soprano sax, as he blazed through familiar and new melodies like “Day-by-Day” and “No Way I Can Live Without You.” Ever mindful of his fans, he commented that he would get emails, if he didn’t play particular songs. But Najee was equally at home with the flute on which he makes intricate runs like a saxophone. He told the story of having his horns stolen on Christmas Eve, after a rehearsal when he was 15, which necessitated him to becoming a flute player. And, we are all grateful. Heads were bobbing, and fingers were snapping throughout the evening as Najee and the band performed their set. The rhythms of Daniel Powell on drums and Rod Bonner on keys, who Najee has known since 14, excited the audience, as they didn’t miss a beat. Everyone was up to the task, and after 30 years, Najee continues to choose effective collaborators. Chuck Johnson, on guitar and vocals, entertained as he did his best rendition of a classic R&B artist complete with falling down to his knees on the tune “All I Ever Ask,” which Najee had recorded on a video with Freddie Jackson. Thirty years after Najee’s Theme, Najee continues to excite and mesmerize audiences as he performed a solo nonstop for nearly two minutes on Noah’s Ark, as bassist Odell Northington wiped his brow with a handkerchief. Of lessons learned from 30 years as a solo artist, Najee says, “Not taking this stuff too serious that’s the number one thing. That is probably what it has taught me the most. And every time we were at the top of something we were at the bottom of another thing. It’s been a continual evolvement. I really have no complaints with how my career has gone. I have been able to survive the shifts in the business.” Thirty years in the music business is a milestone, and Najee will continue to make new fresh music for his fans. “That’s an inner need for me, an internal need if you will. There was a saying that I heard a few weeks back – musicians don’t retire; they just don’t hear any more music. Well I am still hearing things I don’t plan to retire anytime soon.” We’re happy Najee launched his 30th anniversary tour in Denver and treated us to an exceptional evening of music. The tour goes throughout November. Make a special getaway to see him. Editor’s note: For more information and the Najee 30th Anniversary Tour schedule, visit www.najeeofficial.com.


Colorado Flyers

Champions Running the Track to Success By Charles Emmons

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pring is the season of renewal and new commitments. It’s the time when high school student athletes make their choices for the colleges and universities they will attend. Many fortunate young men and women receive full-ride scholarships because of their skills. Athletics is a bridge to opportunities, and students must make the most of what they are offered and given, despite their records and achievements. In May, the Colorado Flyers Track Club will have its 50th reunion at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, and budding stars will take to the track at the 11th Annual Freddie Houston Meet of Champions track meet at the Evie Dennis complex in Green Valley Ranch. The Flyers have been presenting and coaching track stars since 1966

with the aim of used to transport helping young peothe young women, ple get college scholwho were track arships. Yvonne and field aspirants, Braxton received the across the country first full-ride scholby car. arship to Jackson “My daughter State University in came home one 1976. According to day from elemenRobert Smith, the tary school and founder and presisaid she wanted to dent, some 280 athrun track. The letes have been coach had been Paula McClain running the winning anchor leg for the going around Colorado Flyers. 880-yard medley relay for the Univ. of Colorado Many notable stars Women's Track Team. Milestone Invitational at the looking at kids have passed competing on field CU Fieldhouse. through the ranks day, and he wanted including Pam Greene, who connected to start a little girls track club,” says with the Flyers after running in the Dennis. Al Durst met with Dennis, 1972 Munich Olympics. Greene began and the Denver All-Stars began. her career with the Denver All-Stars Dennis says that she and Pam under the coaching of Al Durst. Dr. Greene’s mother, Bernice used to sew Evie Dennis and Pam Greene’s mother uniforms together. “We sold Jolly

Rancher candy to get funds to take them to the meets around the country with the Denver All-Stars.” The Denver All-Stars provided a precedent for other teams like the Colorado Flyers. When the Flyers was founded in 1966, the aim was to provide a venue for competition for young women wanting to participate in track and field, and to foster scholarships for them. The Colorado Flyers eventually merged with many similar youth track organizations including the All-Stars. The Team Achievements page of the Colorado Flyers alumni lists 80 young women and 11 young men who have graduated and received scholarships to colleges and universities across the country. These include large NCAA Division I schools, HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), and schools like Syracuse and Stanford.

Elevating Philanthropy in Communities of Color - EPIC For nearly twenty years, through Strengthening Neighborhoods and the Inclusiveness Project, The Denver Foundation has invested significant time and financial resources to develop relationships, programming, and grantmaking in communities of color. Additionally, through its work to grow philanthropy, The Foundation partners with individuals, families, businesses, and other diverse groups to amplify their giving. Now, through EPIC and with funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, The Denver Foundation is proud to continue our support of the existing, emerging, and oftentimes invisible acts of philanthropy in communities of color. EPIC is an ongoing investment that is critical to achieving our mission to inspire people and mobilize resources to strengthen our community.

EPIC Objectives • Recognize and grow philanthropy in communities of color •

Connect philanthropists of color with tools, education, and resources

Bring together committed donors of color to build relationships and impact positive community change

www.denverfoundation.org

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2016


Colorado Flyers have set world records in amateur meets. Five Colorado High School records still stand that were set by young women who passed though the Flyers ranks. Their beloved, legendary longtime coach, Tony Wells passed in 2012. But whatever he taught and passed on to so many young women stuck, as they entered colleges and universities and continued to set records. Paula McClain, now the Marketing, Diversity Director for Colorado United States Tennis Association, ran with the Flyers in the 1960s and 1970s and was a forerunner of numerous champion achievers. She competed at the USATF Nationals in 1969 in Dayton, Ohio, and again in 1971 in Bakersfield, Calif. McClain was the Rocky Mountain Region Junior Olympics Championships gold medal winner in the 100, 220, and 440 yd. runs in 1970, Colorado High School State Champion in the 100 in 1972, and was on the University of Colorado, Boulder Women’s Track Team 1973-1976. Elite athletes like Pam Greene are hard to come by, but McClain and other runners achieved their own levels of success. “At that time, sports for girls was not readily available, especially on a competitive level,” says McClain. However, the opportunity to participate in track provided discipline, goal-setting, confidence, team camaraderie, travel and exposure at an early age, which transformed to independence, a “can do” attitude and the ability to compete in corporate America. There are studies now that speak to the benefits of sports participation for women.” “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”-Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972. Title IX changed the outlook of opportunities for female athletes. Scholarships could get them into college, and from there the world was much more open to them. Eboni (Crosby) Lewis was a Flyer in the late 1990s; she was coached by Wells, Chris Turner, Caryl Smith and Freddie Houston. “Being a Flyer helped me to take my talent to the next level. I became a junior All-American, national USATF champion, state champion, and was able to participate in many high profile meets. I secured countless scholarship offers from Division I universities across the country and ended up accepting a full athletic scholarship to Georgia Tech,” says Lewis. Caryl Smith Gilbert is a Flyer alumni and is the current director of track

Ashley Cruder wins second in the 60M run at 2006 Simplot Games indoor meet.

and field at the University of Southern California and coaches a Dior Hall, a recent former Colorado Flyer. Hall is a national junior and world-record holder in the 100meter hurdles. Hall is the daughter of another Flyer alumni, Yolanda Johnson. The Flyers are a close-knit family of stellar athletes, and it is ingrained in them, success on and off the track is theirs. Ashley Cruder is a current graduate student at Auburn University. In the early 2000s she was coached by Tony Wells after joining the Flyers in the 8th grade. Cruder is not your typical runner. At 4’11” she barely reaches the shoulders of some of her competitors. “Tony always enforced it’s not the size of the dog but the fight in the dog. Throughout my tenure as a Flyer, I was a four-time High School AllAmerican, 2006 Nike Indoor National 60M champion, 2007 Colorado State Champion (100M, 4x100M, and 4x200M), Eaglecrest record holder (100M, 4x100M, and 4x200M). I still currently hold the Colorado School of Mines Steinhauser Fieldhouse 60M record and am ranked #13 on the US All-time list for girls high school 60M,” says Cruder. When Cruder ran a 7.30 60M in her junior year Division I schools showed overwhelming interest in the Tony Wells prodigy. First choosing Florida State University, she transferred to Auburn after her freshmen year. At Auburn, Cruder was NCAA Indoor AllAmerican (2012), Southeastern Conference Bronze Medalist 60M, and currently holds the 10th fastest 60M performance in the school’s history. She earned two bachelor degrees from Auburn in communications and political science. Cruder misses coach Wells who was her biggest supporter on and off the field. “Knowing he was no longer around definitely took away some of my interest in competing in the sport. One thing he would always say, no matter the situation is ‘Have some

pride Bubba’, and that has always stuck with me on and off the track.” Cruder, while working on her master’s degree, serves as a student graduate assistant in StudentAthlete Support Services at Auburn. She works with both the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams. Cruder supports and motivates at-risk student athletes in their day-to-day academic activities. She invokes Tony Wells daily. “Tony was not only great at developing athletes, but he was phenomenal at getting young ladies to realize their selfworth and true potential in life outside of the sport; and I am honored to implement his theory in my current job every day.” Like Ashley Cruder, Eboni (Crosby) Lewis sees great value in her Flyers experience and in sharing it with others and giving back to the community. “My experience gave me the desire to give back to my local community. I helped coach a youth team locally for a short time. I was a mentor to disadvantaged youth while at Tech, and in my career, I have chosen leadership positions that enable me to work on teams cross functionally with people similar and different from myself.” Lewis has earned her MBA and works as a business process manager-global margin management in Atlanta for JM Huber Corporation, a chemical company. Unless you are a Serena Williams, even today there seems to be little focus on female athletes. For them it is not always the pinnacle that is their motivator. There are only so many levels where women can participate, and even those who compete at the highest levels will soon have to say goodbye to the field. Nevertheless the Women’s Sports Foundation points out some universal truths about the value of sports. Girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2016

Females who participate in high school sports are more likely to complete college than those who did not participate in sports. Through sports, girls learn important life skills such as teamwork, leadership and confidence. It’s been a long time since Paula McClain has been on the competitive track, but the experience and lessons there have led her to where she is today. After a successful corporate career in marketing at Apple Computer, BET Movies and Starz, she directs diversity programs for Colorado USTA, and she is adamant about the Flyers teaching and coaching young women in life skills that will make them successful. “There is a unique Denver perspective that’s amazing! These young girls exposed to track, represented Denver, Colorado all over the world through competitive club track offered here. The individual stories from world travel, college education to very wellrounded, successful, contributing group of women in America,” says McClain. “Personally, I’m so grateful to have participated and developed in track during that time of my life and the early years of the Flyers. Although there are various track clubs in Colorado, then and now, it’s a community that surrounds all of the participants encouraging, supporting, and inspiring each athlete. Whenever our “home-girl” or “home-boy” is on the world stage representing USA, we celebrate each other. And, Denver has a lot to be proud of.” More than half a century ago, Evie Dennis started the Denver All-Stars, and perhaps she did not realize the potential impacts track might have on Denver’s young African American women. Known later for being the superintendent for Denver Public Schools, she also served as a vice president on the United States Olympic Committee. When you view the Flyers’ exhibit at BlairCaldwell, which displays memorabilia from 1966-2016, be aware of the challenges to field a team, coach young women and men, and sustain a club for so long. And if you attend the Freddie Houston Meet of Champions held at the facility named in Dennis’ honor, know that the Flyers and other clubs continue to produce outstanding able athletes ready to take on the world who will contribute and make it better.  Editor’s note: The Colorado Flyers Track Club reunion celebration will be at the Blair-Caldwell Research Library May 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. The 11th Annual Freddie Houston Meet of Champions track meet will be held at the Evie Dennis Stadium and Campus in Green Valley Ranch, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call Robert P. Smith at 303-961-6240 or email robertsmith9939@gmail.com.


Youth Finding a Future with Spiritual Guidance By Charles Emmons

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lasses are back in session. Across the country students have written about or discussed, “What I Did on my Summer Vacation.” Some may have been fortunate to go to camp, or some had part-time jobs to occupy those spaces in time when they would rather be playing video games, shooting hoops, roaming the malls with

friends or binge watching reality programs. But how many actually had the chance to learn something with lasting effect and impact for the rest of their lives? Enter Youth With a Future, an offshoot of the Transformational Leadership Forum, an urban leadership development program based in

spiritual and Christian values. Youth With a Future mentors understand that our cities will need effective leaders in communities in order to keep moving forward. Urban youths face challenges-in schools, at home, from their peers and on the streets. At-risk young people often have no place to turn to for positive guidance. There are great mentoring programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters – which can take youth out of negative environments. However, few may offer spiritual guidance to reinforce their positive experiences. Most participants this summer were selected from Denver Kids, Inc., an established mentorship program that in 2016 marks 70 years of helping at-risk kids navigate their way through school and life. Youth With a Future needed great kids to start with, and executive director, Dr. Robert Fomer knew they could be found in the program where his wife, Dr. Margaret Fomer was a past executive director. In the five-week program, students learned about values, ethics, making the right choices and working in the real world. Part of the curriculum was to spend a week at the Cherry Creek Apple Store where techs taught them about technologies that can enhance careers and communication skills. If the students successfully complete the five weeks, they may keep an iPad mini that they have been using throughout the summer to complete their assignments. Seven students satisfactorily completed the program, and entered into paid internships with Youth with a Future, where they were paid $100 every two weeks. Dr. Bob, as he is affectionately and respectfully called, knows the value of technology to these kid’s futures, and leverages it in facilitating the communication for the classes. Three out of every four African-American teens use a mobile device as their primary access to the web. “They didn’t know each other,” explained Natalie Allan, lead creative at the Cherry Creek Apple Store and Manual High School alumni. “It allowed them to start opening up to

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2016

their peers. They also got to explore some of their goals and how to pursue their goals in the sense of one student who wants to be a microbiologist to create her presentation on what she would need to do in her own life. I think we played a small part in giving her tools to discover what that story was – being able to see the kids transform over the week, exploring where they are, where they are going to be, and how to get there, and being able to express that.” To start participants are given the rules of engagement and challenged to embrace eight core values. •Friendship with a Mentor •Passion for Purpose and People •Visionary Leadership •Culturally Relevant Communication •Multiplication of Leaders •Family Values as a Priority •Good Stewardship •Commitment to Integrity These core values are discussed and facilitated through programming, workbooks, and film illustrating the value. Afterwards they discussed how the clip relates to their value topic. Throughout the program, students used their iPads to complete relevant research and assignments. During the week at the Apple Store, participants capped off their experiences with presentations on their iPads on which they began to map their futures. Each student was tasked with completing four slides in their talk: •My past and what got me here •My goal •Steps on reaching goal •What my reality will look like in five years. The young people in Youth With a Future have big dreams, but without the toolbox to reach them, they may not be fulfilled. After the last day at the Apple store, they adjourned to the Oleta Crain Enrichment Center, 2102 Marion St., for their final session on core values and integrity. After lunch and a round of musical chairs, they settled into discussions about their experiences in which they showed integrity and instances where they did


not. They ranged from owning up to damaging or returning personal lost property to shoplifting and food fights. Eventually the group fleshed out their working definition of integrity as “Doing the right thing when no one is looking.” Dr. Bob re-focused the students on a recent field trip to the courtroom of Judge Wiley Daniel. A young man was on trial for possession of a firearm, and the judge asked him five times, “What would you do better?” Dr. Bob’s re-iterated Daniel’s point, “What do you do in 10 seconds?” What decisions do you make? Those decisions can change a life.” This program is intended to change lives with new perspectives on opportunities and choices. Young people have more disparate challenges today, and the school to prison pipeline affecting African-Americans is real in many neighborhoods and families. New visions and outlooks are necessary to break the cycle. Youth With a Future allows students to map their own course, with the aid of their iPads. Their workbooks as iBooks allow them to interact and keep on track of their goals and map their futures. As interns for the summer, these students helped build a new website, created a magazine illustrating their experiences, and blogged for the program. Dr. Bob invoked sprinter Marion Jones when he addressed them about their responsibilities for roles for what was ahead. “We can accomplish what we can accomplish, but we must play by the rules.” Those students who completed the program received their iPads at the last session at the Issachar Center for Urban Leadership, 1220 E. 24th Ave., in the Whittier neighborhood. Guest speakers who gave them bearings for a brighter future included Dr. Will Miles, former sports clinical psychologist, University of Colorado Boulder,

Patricia Raybon, award-winning author and Mary Louise Lee, entertainer and First Lady of Denver and. Dr. Miles talked about working with CU’s football players who struggled to find respect during the Bill McCartney era. “Who you listen to, what you listen to is critical to who you become,” he told the students. He related an old African saying, “I AM because we ARE therefore I AM.” His point – no one makes it on their own. “The better I do, the better we feel.” Raybon urged the students in this 24/7 news world, to step back and have the truth and courage to tell another story. “We have the right to speak our story,” she said. “I am African-American, but I am a lot of other things. Respect comes from the Latin root to look again.” The students respond differently to what is told to them, but no one could argue with Mary Louise Lee as she awed the participants with an acapella version of “Believe in Yourself” from the Wiz. “Don’t let anyone take your joy away,” Lee said. When Neeliah asked her for advice about a singing career, she told her, “Don’t limit yourself. Know the whole spectrum, learn all aspects.” This advice given by these elders, mentors, experts and shining examples in their fields will long resonate with these young people. Youth With a Future demonstrates what is possible with sorely needed educational enrichment programs that will help and develop young leaders. Dr. Bob makes this program work, with four Denver-based program workshop facilitators, while commuting back and forth from Dallas to Denver, and Skyping when needed. He says “there is an interest in developing a model and partnership with other corporations on a national level.” Editor’s note: For more information or to support Youth With a Future, visit www.ywfleaders.com. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2016


As we enter the winter season, skiers anxiously await the opening of their favorite ski resort. And at 72, Charles Smith still skis and loves teaching others to ski. As one of the pioneering members of Denver’s Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club and the Ski for Kids Program, which has introduced more than 1,500 urban youth to the sport, Smith has been an advocate for bringing more African-Americans to Colorado’s slopes. On Oct. 1, he was recognized by the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Ski Museum, and became the first African-American inducted in their Hall of Fame as a Sport Builder. Smith first got on skis more than 50 years ago. “The first time I was on skis was 1964-65,” he says. It was kind of a goof off day. I went with some friends that I worked with. We went to Loveland Basin. There must have been two carloads of us. We all put on a pair of blue jeans. Everybody told us we should stay dry and be warm. We sprayed waterproofing spray on our clothes. We didn’t have regular ski clothing. And headed out like we knew what we were doing. We jumped on the rope tow I think. We had our own equipment we had rented from Gart Bros.” Skiing was very different back then. There was no I-70 or EisenhowerJohnson tunnels. There were a handful of ski areas. Vail was in its infancy. Loveland Basin was the most accessible, and Smith recalls that the lift ticket was about $4. “We didn’t take lessons,” he says. “Two or three of the guys had been on skis before. They were the ones that kind of led us around. And they did a pretty good job of telling us what to expect. We ended up at the top of the mountain at the end of the day, and that is when the real fun started, getting down.” Yet the Lubbock, Texas native was hooked. The modern technology of quick release bindings didn’t exist, and on this first outing Smith twisted his knee. He visited Dr. Ted Hunt, a Denver orthopedic surgeon who told him he had a sprain and to stay off of it and he would be fine. Two week later he was back on the hill, a place where he found a home for the rest of his life. On that day, Smith didn’t see any other African-Americans skiing. His late brother Odell Smith became his #1 skiing partner. He skied for six years before he was introduced to the Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club when he and his brother were in a restaurant on Colfax and Colorado Boulevard. Dr. William Bowers, a Denver podiatrist, approached them about the club.

Charles Smith Inducted into Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame By Charles Emmons

Smith was surprised to find that there were a good number of AfricanAmerican skiers, among them Val Tanaka, Floyd Cole, and Bryce Parks, who also had significant roles in growing the club and its reach. In his new home of Colorado, Smith married and started a family of skiers. He and his wife are still active in Slippers-N-Sliders, where he has served as the president for eight nonconsecutive years, and as served on the board of the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) for five years as a regional vice president. Thousands of Black skiers from all over the country have made their way west to the mountains for the NBS Ski Summits, which will be in Keystone this year from Feb. 25 to March 4. Twenty-five summit events have been in Colorado in the 40plus-year history of the NBS. Locally, 1,500 youth have been introduced to the sport through the Ski For Kids Program, and Smith says it’s hard to determine how many have stayed with the sport. But it is because of his impact in bringing minorities to the sport on all different levels that Smith was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. “Without Charles’ efforts and passion for the sport, without his work along with the Slippers-N-Sliders Club and the National Brotherhood of Skiers, it’s hard to say how large a percentage of the annual skiers and snowboarders in Colorado would come from the minority community,”

said John Dakin, vice president communications for the museum. “It was in recognition of a lifelong dedication to the sport, dedication to African-American athletes, or to the ski and snowboard industry throughout the state of Colorado, bringing National Brotherhood Summits and many summits here – all of it really dovetails into a very deserving candidate for induction into the Hall of Fame.” Grady Towns, who nominated Smith, noted his accomplishments in his letter. In 2013 he attended an award ceremony at the Ski Museum in Vail where Smith accepted a ‘Top of the Hill Award’ on behalf of the Slippers-N-Sliders. “So it was there that I said, ‘Oh well, here is an avenue that maybe is a way I can get Charles selected to the Hall of Fame.’ And I proceeded from there.” Towns first nominated Smith in 2014, after which he was one of 14 finalists and could be put forward in 2015 and 2016. “I am just particularly pleased and thankful to the Hall of Fame and the museum for inducting Charles into the Hall of Fame. It is just heart-warming to see that. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of that honor,” Towns said. Smith is both honored and humbled for the selection, but is quick to give others credit who have

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2016

also buoyed Slippers-N-Sliders and the activities of Black skiers. “There are some people that don’t participate anymore that need to be recognized. They’ve done some initial things, but they quit early. I stayed. I think especially the ones that are still living. I think they need some credit – Val Tanaka, Rodney Williams. Some credit goes to the Black ski instructors; we have about 16 or 17. There’s been a lot done that nobody knows about. We’ve got people there that have been up 30 years or more. Fred Norman, he’s my age, and he has been up at Keystone 30 some years. Rodney Williams and Mac Holland have been there 30 years. And we are all certified. Four of us are fully certified Level III.” Smith’s level of commitment to introducing African-Americans to the sport is longstanding and brought new experiences and challenges to the community. “I wiped noses, helped kids get dressed, made sure the kids had shoes on the right foot and a little bit of everything,” Smith said. “We got snowed in one time and I remember spent the night in the parking lot in Dillon, and you won’t believe the reception we got. It was unbelievable the people that took care of us,” said Smith who has also been an advocate for Black ski racers at established programs like Burke Mountain Academy and Crested Butte Academy. This year the Ski for Kids Program, which Smith directed for 25 years will introduce another 40 urban youth to skiing. The same number of youth participants that are members of Slipper-N-Sliders will take to the slopes in Jan. 7. Curtis Whitman the club’s current president is looking for more participants, and says the cost of $550 per student is reasonable, for five weeks of ski trips and lessons. Whitman is grateful for Smith’s continuing contributions to Slippers-NSliders. “He has been instrumental in keeping the club alive. He and his wife both are active participants. He’s also a ski instructor at Loveland. He has done a lot for the club, and because he is an expert skier, will take different groups up to ski. He videotapes everybody and does a lot of things for the club and to help promote it.” Preparation informs our success which elevates our joy and enjoyment. Smith has reached a pinnacle of recognition, and now he’s ready to hit the slopes again and enjoy his lifelong passions. Congratulations Mr. Smith! Editor’s note: For more information about Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club, NBS Ski Summit or the National Brotherhood of Skiers, visit www.slippers-n-sliders.org/; www.summitcove.com/land/nbs/ and www.nbs.org/


Mile High Flight Program Marks 20 Years of Giving Flying provides a sense of ulti-

mate freedom. Obstacles and challenges present themselves, but you rise above them undeterred by gender, economic circumstances and other perceived barriers. In October, the Mile High Flight Program marked 20 years of encouraging young people to diligently pursue their dreams of doing whatever is necessary to give them flight. Grounded in the principles of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Mile High Flight Program has exposed Colorado’s youth to opportunities in aviation, aerospace and related fields since 1996. Sponsored by the Hubert L. “Hooks” Jones Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, the 20th year was kicked off at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum Theater packed with more than 100 attendees including students and families. This was the start of another Phase I, a series of seven field trips to aviation and aeronautical related facilities and organizations throughout the Front Range. Phase II for a select few incudes flight training, culminating in a solo flight in a Cessna. The program is facilitated by the “Mile High Flight Crew,” local professional pilots, who volunteer their time. When United Airlines Capt. Eric Mosley asked the gathering if they knew about the Tuskegee Airmen, few hands were raised. He talked about remembering the legacy of these brave decorated African-American men and embraced their principles, which made them successful, as these notable alumni have. Aim High: The young men who would become Tuskegee Airmen dreamed of flying. No one else believed they could. By aiming high we can achieve more. Believe in Yourself: Believing in their own abilities and working hard, the Black Airmen became heroes. Selfconfidence is always a key to success.

Jamar Harrison Harrison fixated on planes at the age of 5, after his uncle gave him a Delta Airlines MD-11 model. When Western Pacific Airlines went bankrupt in Colorado Springs in 1997, many of his classmates’ parents lost their jobs. Harrison questioned this occurrence, and developed an interest in the aviation field in general. He found the Mile High Flight Program while in high school through his mother’s beautician client. During Phase I, he commuted from from

FLIGHT TO DREAMS By Charles Emmons

Left to right: United Airlines First Officer Andrea Menjura, Air Force 1st Lieutenant Mahad Fahieh, original Tuskegee Airman Col (Ret) James Randall, original Tuskegee Airman Randy Edwards, Shirley Edwards, (wife of Randy), and former Mile High Flight solo student Jamar Harrison.

October to May to attend the monthly field trips in Colorado Springs. “Phase I was like going to a mall and seeing so many different stores, “ Harrison says “like seeing all the different aspects of flight. A lot of times when people think aviation, they automatically think pilots. But the program really exposes you to all the different elements of flight outside of that.” Harrison’s father drove him up to the United Airlines Flight Training Center in a blizzard. “That was such a special time for me to think that one of my parents had so much support for me in going into this field, and researching more about the aviation industry,” he says. At the end of Phase I, Harrison took the glider flight at Owl Canyon wearing a cast after knee surgery. He was selected for Phase II, and soloed in a Cessna 172 in 2007. “Phase II taught me so much about not only being a pilot, but also trusting myself and my instincts,” Harrison said. “I had the pleasure and honor of having Capt. Mosley’s late father witness my flight solo who gave me advice. He talked about his experiences as a Tuskegee Airman, talked about trusting yourself – again just reaffirming those lessons I learned throughout Phase II. It’s a moment I will never forget, being able to talk to a real Tuskegee Airman who supported me on my flight solo.” Harrison works in acquisitions and procurement for the Department of Defense in Washington D.C. His goal is getting his MBA and entering the aviation field in management and

operations and to become the first African-American CEO of a major airline. “This program gave me the momentum I needed as a teenager to realize that there is a place for me, a young boy of color in the sky,” Harrison says. “This program not only gave me the opportunity to see a lot of minorities in the aviation industry, it gave me the support and confidence to know that one day I could make a difference in aviation as well.” Use Your Brain: Your brain is like a muscle. Stop using it and it gets weak. By using our brains we can realize our potential. Never Quit: Be persistent. Be patient. Never ever quit. Make a little progress every day. The Tuskegee Airmen earned a reputation for being the best. And it didn’t happen overnight.

Andrea Menjura Standing at 5’1,” Andrea Menjura isn’t your typical pilot, but little has deterred her. “In the U.S., as long as you can touch the pedals, they will let you fly,” Menjura said. She now pilots Boeing 737s for United Airlines. Coming to the United States from Colombia when she was 16, her family settled in Montrose, Colorado. She came to the Denver metro-area and attended Overland High School, when her mother decided to go back to school. Menjura a flyer about the Mile High Flight Program at school and attended a meeting. She entered Phase I in October 2002 and returned to Montrose in December. Menjura commuted over 300 miles each way from

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2016

Montrose every month for the remainder of Phase I, and she stayed in a camper with her father while she took flight lessons during Phase II. Menjura soloed in 2003 and was well on her way to fulfilling her dream of being a pilot. In Colombia, Menjura had waved to the airplanes as they flew in and out over her grandmother’s house and longed to be in the cockpit. But Menjura knew in Colombia, there was little chance for a woman being a pilot. On her trip to the U.S. there was a layover in Miami. “I remember seeing a female pilot, and I said, ‘Well if she can do it, I can do it too,’” she says. This chance observation ignited the spark. After graduating from Montrose High School, Menjura obtained her associates degree and her flight instructor certification at Colorado Northwestern Community College. Menjura has flown for Great Lakes, Frontier and now United Airlines. She is grateful to the program for her career. “They showed me the path to my dream,” she says. “I remember writing an essay for Phase II called ‘Putting Wings to My Dreams.’ Wings are the airplanes, and everything they told me; they always said work hard, have determination and aim high believe in yourself. It does pay off and it is thoroughly true. So I want to invite young women out there to try it, because anything they dream about is possible. “ Be Ready to Go: Every day is your chance to be a little smarter, a little stronger.

Mahad Fahieh Like Menjura, Air Force 1st Lt. Mahad Fahieh’s interest in aviation was sparked by the airport. He remembers relatives from Ethiopia flying in and out of Denver. “At Stapleton, I would watch the planes fly, and it always fascinated me how something that big could get off the ground and go,” he says. In middle school he built fighter jet models. At Smoky Hill High School Fahieh found the Mile High Flight Program at the suggestion of a counselor. He participated for two years and soloed in 2008. Fahieh was a junior and had just gotten his driver’s license. A civil engineering major at the University of Colorado Boulder, Fahieh joined the ROTC and had the opportunity to coordinate flyovers. Fahieh went on active duty in the United States Air Force in 2014, and is stationed at Buckley AFB where he is assigned to space operations. As with Menjura and Harrison, the Mile High Flight Program opened him to new possibilities.


“There are a number of different things with regards to the aerospace community,” he says. “There’s engineering. There are so many different options out there for you. Don’t put yourself in one little niche. Go out there and explore. Go find out what your calling is and then go pursue it with everything that you’ve got. “ Expect to Win: If you don’t believe great things will happen, then they never will. When the Airmen returned from war to everyday life, they faced many challenges. However, they knew they could handle them. And they did.

Kamia Bradley

In recent years many of the flight soloists have been young women. Mile High Flight Program raised one of them to new heights she couldn’t imagine. Denver East High School graduate Kamia Bradley is attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. She soloed in 2015 and posted the experience on YouTube, youtu.be/zDejtxBy4WU. Bradley’s path into the air was wrought with her own personal turbulence. Dealing with abandonment and homelessness, she was led to the Mile High Flight Program by a mentor with Colorado Uplift. Because Bradley lacked a computer, she often did her Phase II homework assignments on a cell phone and in the library. “And I tell people about that in my essay and I showed them how my passion to get to that goal of a bright future outweighed the other things that seemed to be holding me back,” she says, “like being homeless, or not having any money, or not having any ride to get me to events, having to go the extra mile so I could get someplace, that never stopped me.” Bradley, on her way to fulfilling her dream, will be a flight instructor by her senior year, and is on the path to becoming a commercial pilot. Her advice to anyone wanting to fly, “If they want to fly, they have to know that it is a lot of hard work. You have to go above and beyond, but the payoff is amazing. And if you really have a passion to do something, then there is absolutely nothing that can stop you.”

Flying solo is unforgettable and exhilarating. For soloers like Bradley, there is nothing like it. “The most exciting part was taking off – the view,” she says. “It was my first time taking off early in the morning. I arrived at the airport at 6 a.m. and I did my solo at 7 a.m. It was the first time I had seen the sun come up and by the time I was flying it was already up. I saw the highway, and I saw the cityscape, and it just reminded me why I really wanted to fly in the first place, because of the view that flying gives you – to be able to see the ground from the sky.” Changing our views is integral to success. And the Hubert L. “Hooks” Chapter president, Col. Mark Dickerson believes in the continued value of the program, because of the positive track record and the encouragement it provides to students – even those that don’t get into flight training. Over the 20 years, 1,000 students have been introduced to aviation and aerospace opportunities, and flown in the glider at Owl Canyon and in a Cessna at Centennial airport. Fifty have received flight-training scholarships and completed solo flights. The community can support this program through financial or in-kind contributions. “A lot of the things the students get an opportunity to do and see are field trips that are set up and hosted by aviation related or STEM related organizations. What would also be helpful, is that organizations that have that aviation, or space or scientific kind of role in the community, could open up their organizations for tours for these kids and make their people available to them and tell them some of the things that they are doing and some of the opportunities that are available in their fields,” Dickerson said. Tell those students what they need to be doing now in order to get to those places; show them the kinds of things they are doing and ignite a spark in those students. “We at the Hooks Jones Chapter hope what the program does is to provide a little bit of a view into the potential futures for these young folks. And to help them make decisions regarding what are some of their choices for their own futures, so its avitaion oriented, and it tends to have young people who have a potential interest in aviation related trainings or careers. But it is our purpose to encourage excellence no matter what they do. And we hope that is does that, and shows them what that pursuit of excellence can do for their future,” Dickerson said. Success never comes easy. There is always sacrifice and sometimes we just need to re-orient our compass. “Straighten up and Fly Right!”

2 016 – 2 017 SEASON 32 AT THE AURORA FOX

L`]?]jk`oafk PORGY and BESS

November 25 - January 1 The stirring tale of African-American life in South Carolina’s fictional Catfish Row comes to The Aurora Fox Arts Center this month. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience the story of the crippled Porgy as he sets out to rescue Bess from Crown, her violent and possessive lover. The classic songs Summertime, I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’ and It Ain’t Necessarily So will transport you back to the 1930s in this timeless tale of love and life.

Half Price Holiday Special! Use online code URBAN for half price tickets!

Hear the classic songs: Summertime It Ain’t Necessarily So I Got Plenty of Nuttin’

9900 E Colfax Ave, Aurora 3 0 3 - 7 3 9 - 19 7 0 Tickets at AuroraFox.org

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2016


Volume 30 Number 8

November 2016

Hillary Surrogates

Walk the Walk and

Talk the Talk in Denver

DNC Chair Donna Brazille On The Road for the White House...3


On the Road for the White House…...On the Road to Democracy By Charles Emmons

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Donna Brazille

Lee

Cheadle

Franklin

Moore

Warren

Billups

Photos by Bernard Grant

lection Day is close. Ballots have been mailed. Voter registration reps roam the entrances of supermarkets with clipboards ensuring passersby’s are registered for one of the most important elections of the new century. Are you ready? Colorado has some of the most progressive voting laws in the country. You can vote by mail, or register and vote on the same day. What could be easier? Despite the ease of this process, some people still don’t vote. They don’t feel their vote will count, or the candidates don’t express their exact views. President Barack Obama currently has a 57 percent approval rating, the highest of any previous president at this point of his term with 10.7 million jobs created and 20 million people with healthcare who did not have it before. A Good Ground Game To make sure you vote for continued progress, Democratic Party surrogates have hit the road. Social media worked for Barack Obama, but Democrats such as former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb knows there

Fudge

is nothing like a good ground game to get out the vote. Democratic Chairperson Donna Brazille, a frequent commentator on CNN, is campaigning for Hillary Clinton, along with Colorado U.S. Senate incumbent Michael Bennet, U.S. House Rep. candidate Morgan Carroll and other democrats. The Louisiana native has been a political organizer over 30 years. She first met Webb in 1982, and had the opportunity to work with former Colorado House Rep. Pat Schroeder. “I was a student who benefitted

For our families. For our fuure. For progress.

James Coleman House District 7

Clyburn

from Title IX,” Brazille explains. “Pat Schroeder was such an amazing lawmaker. She represented us well. Pat Schroeder, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, so you can imagine my roots when it comes to equal rights; when it comes to Civil Rights, and when it comes to making sure that this country will never go back on the commitment to ensuring that every American citizen will have equal rights and equal protection under the law.” Brazille has experienced nine presidential campaigns, and for her the stakes couldn’t be higher. “We have to keep the White House,” she says, “because that is the house that will give us all a roof over our heads, and give all our children a head start, and it matters that Hillary will become the 45th president of the United States of America.” Although some may question Clinton’s integrity, Brazille trusts her implicitly. “I trust her with every part of my life. I trust her to make sure that every child has a head start. I trust her that workers and organizers and students can go to school. I trust her to build the infrastructure in this country to keep America safe and strong.” Clinton’s passions and levelheadedness confirms Brazille’s endorsement and advocacy. “She went down to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to serve disabled children and poor children,” Brazille says, “and to help them have a school and get a head start. That is why I trust her to continue to do what is right and what is just.” What Else is at Stake? How about Supreme Court appointments? For Brazille, now is not the time to turn back time in areas where we have achieved progress, often viewed as limited. “And whether you are for voting rights, gay and lesbian rights or worker’s rights,” Brazille says, “we have to demand that we have justices that will make sure all Americans will not face discrimination, and that we will not go back to the days when you cannot marry the person you love. So I trust that Hillary Clinton will make good

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2016

appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States.” This election is about looking forward. Historically Democrats have been more willing to put forth progressive and moderate initiatives for the benefit of everyone, yet the needle hasn’t moved much because of politics. The obstruction that President Obama has faced is unprecedented, and Clinton will need able allies for needed change. Brazille’s background is no different from many other hard-working Americans. She was born to a janitor and a maid. Her father later joined the service, and they put at least eight children through college. “My father was a veteran,” she says, “and I care about our nation’s veterans. I’m 56 years old. So this is for all you millennials. I love you. I am giving back and paying it forward. I want to win, because it is so vital that we don’t turn back the page of history. We have come so far.” Before you sign that mail in ballot or pull the lever in the polls, remember that this critically important election is about the future, your future and the future of your families and children. “This election is too vital for us to sit back and to not help out all of our candidates from the courthouse all the way to the White House,” Brazille explains. “Whether the issue is about the environment or raising the minimum wage – which I stand for 100 percent – we must turn this election into a referendum on the future and know which candidate and which political party believes in the future and will fight for the future. It doesn’t if you are a poor child in the Bayou of Louisiana or a middle-class worker on your second shift, we need everybody to get out and make sure that everybody registers and votes. “Let’s send these great people to the state house so that the governor has two more years to make a lot of progress and a lot of change Brazille adds. “Let’s send these great women to congress. And let’s put a woman in the White House. This election is


about our future. To some of you I have said this before. I have lived long enough to see a Black president of the United States, and thanks be to God, I am going to see the first woman elected. So there is no stopping us now. I want to see the first Hispanic, the first Asian-American. I want to see the first openly gay American, the first Muslim American and the first Jewish American. We have no more boundaries in this country. There is no ceiling high enough, because we are going to soar this election day.� The work to get voters out in Colorado continued by numerous, people, including Denver East High alumni, actor, producer, director Don Cheadle, and some perhaps not so well known like Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been a Democratic political soldier for years. Other Surrogates “Colorado is a state that is critical,� says Barbara Lee who has been representing California’s 13th district that includes the city of Oakland. “People here are very politically aware and astute and I am here not just to help push the vote out for Secretary Clinton, but also for our congressional candidates as well. I am cautiously optimistic about taking back the house. Hillary Clinton as president

will need a democratic House of Representatives.� Actor, producer, director, and Denver East alumni, Don Cheadle returned to Colorado to work with young volunteers in Denver to get out the vote. “We are under 100 days and it is very important that we all do what we can to energize this movement and make sure people get to the polls and avail themselves of the right to have their voices heard,� Cheadle says. Known as a political fighter on a world scale, being an advocate for social justice in Africa, Cheadle adds, “We’re a battleground state no matter what anybody else tells you. It’s really important because the polls are getting closer, and closer. We want to make sure that we get that gap larger and larger. Make sure that young people understand how important this is. And with this election, I can’t think in recent history of any more stark contrast between two candidates.� Good Advice One of the hardest working public servants of this campaign for democracy is former Atlanta mayor, Shirley Franklin. Franklin recalls her last visit to the Mile-High City was during her campaign. She had never run for office and had met with then Denver Mayor Wellington Webb in a downtown hotel.

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“He sat me down and said, ‘You know you are going to lose this race if you don’t change what you are doing.’ So he gave me some great political advice,� Franklin recalls. “I remember to this day, he said, ‘You have to meet the people wherever they are and however few or many there are. Voters are not going to come to you. You have to go to them. That really kind of shifted my campaign a lot. I think it is a model we have to use. You’ve got to go where the people are however many or few so we can make sure we are inspiring for this important election.� Eye on the Future Author and social entrepreneur Wes Moore says who we elect this election cycle is going to be incredibly important. The decorated U.S. Army officer explains that while late in the campaign, there are distractions, talk of conspiracy theories, and little discussion about the issues. “It’s almost easier to say what’s not at stake because there is not a single issue where we don’t have long-term implications as we are thinking about it,� Moore says. “There isn’t a single issue that the next president isn’t going to be wrestling and debating with, and I think that adds a level of seriousness that we have to take with this decision.�

Surrogates such as Marcia Fudge have their eye on the future and are mindful of the past accomplishments of Democrats that must be sustained. Fudge came to Colorado to address a group from the Delta sorority as a guest of former Colorado Senator Hon. Gloria Tanner. Fudge is a U.S. Representative from Ohio, another crucial swing state. Working in the House, she has a keen understanding of her colleagues, what is lacking, and what is needed. “First I think the thing that is at stake is we would have a president that would get the respect of the rest of the world. Certainly we need a president that needs to understand the significance of public education, as we find ourselves in situations where schools are becoming more segregated and they are continuing to take away resources for public education. What is important is that we maintain Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as we know it. And that we would not allow Social Security to be privatized, because as you look at it the fact that more than 50 percent of all Black women that have retired are on Social Security. And if it were to be privatized a large portion of them would go into poverty almost immediately.� Continued on page 4

9RWH Return your ballot today.

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Paid for by Hillary for America Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2016


On the Road to the White House Continued from page 4 Right Wing Drift Political soldiers who have long fought for justice economically, educationally, and socially understand the need to shape our own destinies given the opportunities that we have been afforded. Representing the 6th District in South Carolina James Clyburn is the 3rd ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), his roots are deep in the Civil Rights movement as he completes his 24th year in Congress. “Most people are aware of the rightward drift that is taking place in this country that came rushing forward after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Or the advent of the so-called Tea Party in 2010, and the Republicans took over the congress. They have been working hard to repeal not just the Affordable Care Act. But if you look at all the bills that they propose it is cutting away at things like the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court has given almost a death knell to the most effective part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But while folks are looking at the Supreme Court they aren’t looking at what the Congress is doing to the Civil Rights Act.” Fiery and Feisty Rock Star Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has rock star status in the Democratic Party. She made a swing through Colorado in October appearing on the Auraria Campus with Sen. Bernie Sanders and later stopped by the field office in Aurora. Warren exemplifies what Democracy is about. She got right to it in her address which can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. “I am proud of the debate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have had in this campaign,” she said. “I am proud that we have the most progressive Democratic platform in American history.” Warren questions Donald Trump’s plan to win the presidency, based on fanning the flames of fear and hatred and getting fellow Americans to turn on each other. His words make her furious, and Warren said she doubled down that he would never be the President of the United States. She commented that Hillary Clinton has been standing up and been on the receiving end of attacks for 25 years. “But she doesn’t back down.” Clinton is fighting everyday says Warren for children, healthcare, for women, for human rights, for and level playing field. “She has brains, guts, she has thick skin, steady hands and most of all basic decency which is what this country needs, and that is why I am with her!” Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2016

Big Shot Advice NBA legend Chauncey Billups, aka Mr. Big Shot who hails from Park Hill dunked his support for Hillary Clinton saying she is the best person for the job but she is the only person for the job. “She has the temperament we all need in this country, her fairness to women and what she stands for has always been contagious and she has and extensive track working for working with families in need. We have to ensure that she makes it to the White House. As an athlete and one who has spent a lot of time in locker rooms, Billups says her opponent is unfit to be president and denounces his disrespect and lewd comments about women and the locker room banter. “I stand here as a product of being raised by so many strong women right here in this neighborhood , my mother, my two grandparents and a host of aunties that served as grandparents. So when I hear his comments on women it touches me.” As a proud father of three daughters, he wants them to be afforded the opportunities that everyone has, that he has as a man. “I don’t think they will have a fair shake with Donald Trump, the main reason I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I think she can lead us to the next step.” The NBA ESPN analyst says, “I am not a politician but I am conscience citizen and because I have been blessed with a little bit of influence, it is important to me to be able to let people know where I stand. And just to have the right to vote is important; it would be disrespectful for me and my ancestors not to vote. A non-vote is a vote for Donald Trump - so get out and vote.” Bold Solutions Good effective government most often requires bold solutions. It also requires agencies that protect us as a whole like the EPA and more recently the CFPB. Yes these must be funded, but what happens if these safety nets and agencies are not available for us or our families? As a citizen, it is more than a right; it is your duty to stand for democracy and what you believe in by voting in leaders from the statehouse to the White House who will represent your interests. Democracy requires the vigorous participation of an enthusiastic electorate. AfricanAmericans put Barack Obama in the White House. Clyburn noted in his remarks that the expectation from the other side is this year’s the turnout will be similar to the one in 2004, which wasn’t great. Prove them wrong and dispel the hype. Let’s turn out and vote for Democrats in November in the same numbers that elected Barack Obama in 2008, and re-elected him in 2012. 


Higher Heights for America… Building the Political Power of Black Women By Charles Emmons

Host Committee Photos by McBoat Photogrpahy

As we

our state needs it and our nation will definitely be all the better for it.” Glynda Carr, one of the founders of Higher Heights for America thanked the women for being the largest salon conversation in the country. She remarked about

Glynda Carr and Rep. Angela Williams

approach Election Day it is instructive to look back. Who elected President Barack Obama into office? It was largely because African Americans turned out in huge numbers. And who voted the most within the community? It was women. Black women have political economic and political power, yet they are not recognized. This was the message at a gathering of nearly 300 women the end of September. The cross-generational salon talk was held at Wystone’s Northfield and was organized by State Rep. Angela Williams in partnership with Higher Heights for America, a national nonprofit exclusively dedicated to harnessing, organizing and mobilizing Black women’s political power making sure they have the tools to effectively engage, advocate and lead. Rep. Williams represents the Northeast Denver neighborhoods of North Park Hill, Stapleton, Green Valley Ranch, and Montbello. It was like a who’s who at the informal gathering with Hon. Gloria Tanner, Hon. Violet Ricks, Rep. Rhonda Fields, Rep. Janet Buckner, Dr. Fannie Evans, and Carla Ladd being some of the notables attending in support of the event. Williams told the women that it’s to stop minimizing Black women’s voices, and that women bring African Americans together in the state. “This has always been about building a collective voice of influential African American women in the State of Colorado. Ultimately, we always show up as the most active and reliable voting bloc in any election,” said Williams. “Our community needs it,

dollar or $565B in the community. “We showed up and showed out because Obama was Black and we were motivated to campaign and organize in a way that hadn’t been done before and became political donors,” said Carr. In this historic role Black women took to social media. “What Black women must do is harness social media to move political dollars. Why can’t we develop an organization and money in the community? There are 23M Black women in this country, but we are underrepresented,” said Carr. As Black women make inroads economically and politically it is time to organize collectively to advocate and push for their equity due. This advocacy for equity comes from a groundswell of these conversations occurring across the country, in 34 cities since 2015. The aim is to devise a blueprint and roadmap before 2020. It appears the walls and doors may be closed, but the ceiling is cracked. The synergy began in that room. Carr gave them a 20-minute discussion exercise with purposeful and targeted assignments with 4-5 similar peers. We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, and Carr first asked them to weigh in on this and other questions regarding

Attendees engaging in positive interaction.

activist Mary McLeod Bethune, an advisor to Roosevelt, Truman, Coolidge, and Hoover, and her quote on the wall of the newly opened African American History Museum in Washington, D.C. “If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs.” -Mary McLeod Bethune

Black women lead. Black women exemplify courage, but they continue to be the least heard. Carr commented that Black women spend $.85 of every

Black women and leadership. The questions included to name Black women in history you admire, what is the top issue for Black women, what is the biggest barrier to running for office, how do we collectively make this the year, and how do we do something individually? Carr will take the answers and publish a case study from the data. A few women took the mike and reported the results. The women named local women like Dr. Rachel Noel, as well as Michelle Obama and Barbara Jordan. A group of teens also named Rhonda Fields and Angela Williams among others. Recurring themes

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2016

regarding other questions were that knowledge of events and the political process, encouragement by others, and mentoring would help women become more involved and willing to run for a position. Some other poignant comments made: “TV has stigmatized us and impedes our ability to be taken seriously.” “Women set the pace for the village.” “Support one another. Speak authentically and there is no need to be competitive.” The young teen group made a significant contribution to the discussion. They believed collective healing, mentoring and coalition building, generational dialogue and support and thinking for themselves is essential to building political power. At the conclusion of the discussions and presentations of the groups, Carr pointed out opportunities, places and forums where women can start being more political. These include commissions, school boards, church leadership, and even school PTO’s. “Build the capacity to lead and use the resources that you have.” Carr’s goal is to have 20,000 members in Higher Heights by 2020. Black women must continue voting, no matter who is running. Carr talked about her mother who always had a vote plan of bringing a cooler with water and 10 other people to the polls. She urged the women to have their own plan. She also commented that on average it takes asking Black women 9 times before they will run for an office. This is an area where there is work to be done. By the tone of the buzz of conversation in the room, it was evident that the discussion was vigorous. Williams in thanking and closing the event said, “Everyone was still here. No one left.” She then laid out her vision for future interactions – for the room to come together for advocacy, to stand up and talk about inequities, to take advantage of state contracts and influence opportunities, to influence decisions that are being made that affect our families. “We can’t be hating on each other. We are stronger together,” said Williams. This event was a beginning. Williams plans future sessions on how to strengthen Black women’s voices in grassroots advocacy campaigns and the electoral process. “From the voting booth to elected office to boardrooms and CEO offices, Colorado’s Black women can and must translate their political power into business, education and economic growth,” added Williams.  Editor’s note: For More information, visit http://www.higherheightsforamerica.org, @HigherHeights4, #BlackWomenRun, #BlackWomenVote, #BlackWomen Lead


City Park Golf Course Changes on the Horizon By Charles Emmons

C

olorado’s fickle weather frequently plays with our emotions. We are glad when it’s sunny and gloomy when it’s cold and the snow falls. At this time of year, it’s no different, and it’s more than skiers who can enjoy the outdoors. How about a round of golf? In January, golfers can play the links of the City Park Golf Course (CPGC) in northeast Denver. As you hit down the fairways towards the west with vast pristine views of the snow-capped mountains and a growing city skyline, what could be a better way to spend a sunny 60-degree winter afternoon? The 136-acre golf course is part of Denver’s crown jewels of open space, and will soon undergo some modifications to enhance flood control as Denver keeps up with growing populations and traffic. Problematic flooding in the Mile High City in the last decade is of greater concern to residents in the northeast part of the city. Denver storm sewer system is strained, and in the past several years has not accommodated floodwaters from storms. The need is great to address flooding in the Montclair and Park Hill flood plains. I-70’s expansion and re-configuration will increase the runoff from the highway as it is routed north of Park Hill, Clayton and Globeville. The environmental impact statement for the project indicates that at I-70 and York, the run-off flow could reach almost 2500 cfs (cubic feet per second). Numerous sites and plans were considered to alleviate this possible flood-

ing but in the end, the City determined the CPGC best serves the purpose because it has the greatest amount of area for a detention configuration and the least number of acquired or demolished homes. According to diagrams from the city, the detention pond would be located on the northwestern edge of the course and take up approximately 50 acres. This would take over just 35 percent of the golf course for this other purpose. And Denver has assured residents that the course will remain one of the finest courses to play in the area and the great amenity of the views will not be altered. The Par 72 course will become a par 71 course. Shortened fairways and a re-located driving range are probable, and the clubhouse, which was only dedicated in 2002, could be demolished or moved. This has raised the concerns of many in the community, who saw many positive changes to the course property in the early 2000’s as Denver put together a plan to preserve and enhance the historic parks and open spaces throughout the city. The park and golf course are on the National Historic Register. Designed by Tom Bendelow, who designed more than 500 other courses including Lakewood Country Club, the golf course was excluded from much of the detailed master planning in the park. CPGC and the park have been perceived as separate entities as the park developed

and 23rd Avenue expanded into a well-traveled thoroughfare. Many Denverites throughout the city have played the course, which is known for being one of the most diverse. It was planned as a 9-hole course in 1913 and became an 18-hole course in 1914. The best players gravitated there, often playing popular skins games. This included African Americans, as the walls in the foyer leading into the pro shop in the current clubhouse feature several photos from the 1940’s of members of the East Denver Golf Club, an African American golf club based at City Park. It seemed the etiquette rules of golf took precedent over what was happening outside the golf course boundaries. Prior to the 1960’s and due to redlining, Blacks didn’t live south of 26th Avenue and west of York Street,

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2017

yet white, African American, Latino, and Asian American clubs coexisted; although tournament play was segregated until 1981 when the City Park Players Club was formed. Former City of Denver Director of Golf (1997-2006) Tom Woodard cut his teeth on the course and was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2013 after a successful career at CU Boulder, where he was the first African American to play on the varsity team, and was a walk-on. He still owns the lowest score (61) for the CPGC and has been the pro at numerous courses in Colorado. He is currently the director of golf for Foothills Park and Recreation District. This perfect storm of flood control and I-70 expansion will impact CPGC. It will be a process with many partners coming together with the aim of holding down and sharing costs. The final three design firms have been chosen for CPGC and public communication and input are important. Construction will begin in 2017, which will entail closing the course through 2019. The first planned open house at CPGC where the public could comment on plans was held on January 30.  Editor’s note: For more information on upcoming meetings visit https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/platte-topark-hill/city-park.html=


Denver Urban Spectrum 30th Anniversary, A Celebration of Caring, Loving and Informing the Community By Charles Emmons

T

Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris...Photo by Bernard Grant

his spring we celebrate as Denver Urban Spectrum marks its 30th year of publishing. Since its inception in April 1987, the newspaper has been the voice for Colorado’s communities of color. Rosalind “Bee” Harris has nurtured the Spectrum like a parent from infancy through adolescence into adulthood, always keeping its content relevant to its readers.

Infancy “I started the Urban Spectrum out of need, filling a void for the communities of color that were lacking a voice to tell stories that were not normally covered in mainstream media,” said Harris. “Originally, and for the first year, the Urban Spectrum was a ‘woman’ publication and featured women on the cover from the Asian, Native American, Hispanic and African-American communities. After the first year, and because those needs were met by other communities, the Urban Spectrum soon focused on the African-American community.” Thus the Spectrum began its evolution, covering important community issues of the time. Denver had elected Federico Pena, the first Hispanic mayor. Planes were still flying in and out of Stapleton International Airport, east of Northeast Park Hill. Denver International Airport was emerging. Light rail, which would impact numerous communities including Five Points, was in the planning stages. Wellington Webb after having served in Governor Lamm’s administration was the Denver City Auditor and perhaps considering his first run for mayor. Four years later, Webb became the 42nd mayor of Denver. The Spectrum was there as Denver’s first AfricanAmerican mayor began his term and throughout his two successive terms,

running the city and tackling the issues that impacted the community. “I believe that it was very important for me to get my story out to the readership of the Urban Spectrum, of a person that grew up in Denver with very little money that was running to be the 42nd mayor of Denver, which coincidentally happened to be an African-American, and the responsibility that entailed,” said Webb. “The Spectrum also had the opportunity to cover the successes as well as the blemishes of my administration, where it would go direct to its reader-

ship, which in some cases the major dailies would overlook.” Mayor Webb’s tenure had its challenges and controversies, significantly the concession contracting at the new airport and the summer of violence in 1993 that swept through numerous parts of the city. When a ricocheting bullet grazed a 6-month-old infant at the Denver Zoo, fired nearly a quarter mile away, there was growing alarm. Six-year-old Broderick Bell was shot in the head while riding in the car in Northeast Park Hill when he was caught in the crossfire of rival gangs

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2017

firing at each other driving down the street which drew national attention. “These kinds of brazen activities that were being printed about gave us the ability to solidify public support and for us to address those issues, capture the people responsible and send them to prison,” said Webb. “The Spectrum was instrumental, because people will talk about an issue that they will talk about in private or casual conversation. But once they see that conversation also in print, it has the ability to enlarge that conversation.” Political action has been essential to our community conversations, and numerous politicians and leaders have occupied the Spectrum’s pages. The publication has consistently illuminated the historic African-American leadership milestones and accomplishments in the law and policy arena. The newspaper’s success has come with strategic partnerships, and like any publication, it has relied on advertisers to keep the printer occupied. Harris and her son, General Manger Lawrence James, have found a way, through good times and bad. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 during the Carter Administration was helpful for bringing in advertising dollars for many years. The act sought to address shortages of credit and redlining, a common practice where banks refused loans to people because they lived in areas deemed to be a poor financial risk. The law led banks to spend money with community publications seeking to reach minority populations, but even after this activity subsided, the Spectrum managed to keep publishing and drawing advertisers, as well as turning into a news magazine with a glossy cover and adding online content. “The Spectrum is somewhat like the town crier of ancient Rome that gives a report of the significant happenings of the day, and allows you to continue to be informed of what is going on in the community,” said Webb. “For Continued on page 4


DUS 30th Anniversary Continued from page 2 those who aren’t in the community, it gives them an eye into, and a glimpse of the community as a whole.” Because of its reach and large readership, politicians and businesses have used the Spectrum to get their messages out. According to Webb, its consistent reliability and relevance make it the goto venue. It has stood the test of time.

Adolescence Eula Adams has been spotlighted in the magazine numerous times since he arrived in Denver from Atlanta to join First Data Corporation in 1991. Later, when Forbes named Adams one of the top 50 African-American business executives, the Spectrum covered his notable honor. As he entered a new industry, becoming the CEO of Neuromonics medical device company, the Spectrum shared the news of his transition to the company with a mission of helping customers get long-term relief from tinnitus, ringing in the ears. “I believe the Denver community is so blessed to have had Denver Urban Spectrum as our voice for 30 years. It is difficult for any business to survive for 30 years. And for a news or publication venture, which must depend on advertisers and other means of support to survive, it is certainly very difficult, particularly when you consider how easy it is for the media to alienate those in power,” said Adams. “Denver Urban Spectrum and Bee Harris have mastered the art of ‘getting the story right’ and not alienating the powerful to the point that would jeopardize their existence. I love the broad range of topics covered and the insight offered on our community that no other Denver metro publication provides. I salute Denver Urban Spectrum and wish them another 30 years.” “Not only is it relevant in the area of politics, it’s also relevant from the standpoint of sharing charitable news as well, and advertisements and news beneficial to the community or other aspects of the community such as the 100 Men Who Cook, or the bicycle giveaway by Geta and Janet Asfaw or functions by our local sororities and fraternities,” said Webb. “These are important as well. We can’t leave out the MLK activities and the rodeo.” The Spectrum has been at the forefront of covering the Martin Luther King Day Marade, after the holiday was officially declared in Colorado in 1986. Events by the late rodeo producer and entertainment promoter Lu Vason were annually on the cover as well as Black History Month events.

Its editorial calendar is inclusive of all communities of color. Whenever anyone has wanted to see what is happening in the Black community or who is attending a particular event, they have always been able to turn to the Spectrum. Since radio stations like KDKO and voices like James “Dr. Daddio” Walker have gone silent, the Spectrum has become an even more viable and vital connection to the community. “I think that the loss of the Urban Spectrum magazine would be devastating. Many people would not understand the loss until after it occurred, because of the value it has added to the community as a whole. It would be like the loss of other giant publications like JET, the Pittsburgh Courier, or the Chicago Defender,” said Webb. “These publications were special because they also provide news to our community, which we may not receive from anywhere else. If they aren’t publishing and we don’t have radio hours and TV hours, then our community becomes – if you allow me to be ethnically chauvinistic for a minute – we become deaf, dumb and blind. We’re relegated to Fox News.” Clearly our media landscape has changed, and although there is a dearth of Black community media in other parts of the country, the Spectrum has undergone changes, but it remains. In its second decade, it found an unexpected ally in the new editor of the Denver Post, Greg Moore, when he arrived in 2002. Moore has roots in community papers, and started his own paper in college. After graduation, he was employed by a newspaper in Dayton, Ohio, moved on to Cleveland’s Call and Pulse, then the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and eventually worked his way up to the managing editor position at the Boston Globe, before recruitment to the Post. During his tenure, the Denver Post was the recipient of four Pulitzer Prizes. Moore believes community papers are essential, because there can be gaps in coverage from major dailies. “My community paper was started when I was in college, but I think the objective and the reason is that communities of color, particularly poor people – more so back then but even today, weren’t being covered well, deeply and sensitively,” said Moore. “And I just think it is important to have an alternative to get your preferred message into the wider community, and community papers are able to do that in a really exceptional way.” From his position at the Post, Moore saw the Spectrum effectively

cover politicians, entertainers, and political activists like Brother Jeff Fard doing great things. “To chronicle Brother Jeff, you would be better off reading the Urban Spectrum over the last 20 to 25 years instead of the Denver Post. And politically it offers what life is like in our part of the city,” said Moore. “Mainstream media like the Denver Post and the [now defunct] Rocky Mountain News, they do a great job covering breaking news and issues, occasionally shining a light on community leaders and people that are making a difference at the grassroots level. But month in and month out, in the case of the Spectrum, they are there all the time. And there is an authority and authenticity that can’t be matched by the mainstream media.” Like former Mayor Webb, Moore sees the Spectrum as akin to papers like the Call and Pulse or the Pittsburgh Courier. When the staff and writers go into barbershops and stores once a month, we continue checking in to see what is happening. “The Call and Pulse was there – where Black people are, and we are very busy people. By and large where Black people are, the Urban Spectrum is there, it is there for us,” said Moore. “It’s chronicling our lives and chronicling our achievements, and our challenges, and it helps that it is writing in this space, because that is what a print publication does – ‘Oh let me take a minute to get connected.’ The Spectrum is special because of that and it’s very effective because of that.” The effectiveness and credibility of the Spectrum has informed its staying power and stature. The magazine has received numerous Colorado Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) Scribes In Excellence (SIE) Awards, where the Spectrum’s freelance writers are pitted against mainstream media reporters, who submit positive stories about the Black community. One of the award-winning writers, boldly featured by Harris in the Spectrum is cannabis industry entrepreneur, Wanda James, who periodically writes a column. Other award winners included editors, writers, photographers, graphic designers, and Harris for overall achievement. “Bee Harris is a community treasure,” said Moore. “I am sure it is not easy to keep a paper going for 30 years. Media publications, the Amsterdam News, the Pittsburgh Courier – some of them have disappeared. So I think some of us take the Urban Spectrum for granted that it is always going to be there. But it won’t always be here if we don’t support it, if we don’t nurture it and support Bee Harris. I think she has made a lot of sacrifices to keep that publication on counters throughout Denver. I just want to salute her for sticking to it and

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2017

embracing the public trust that comes with running a print newspaper in these days and times, and it’s making a difference, and I hope that it goes for another 30 years. It would be a shame for it not to.”

Paying it Forward Bee Harris continues to make a tremendous impact in Denver, earning countless awards for the Spectrum as well as for her contributions to the larger community. She has made a concerted effort to pay her success forward. The last two summers, in conjunction with the non profit Big Hair, Bigger Dreams, she revived the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation working with middle and high school students to seep themselves in journalism and write about issues pertinent to them and their community with a summer journalism camp. The program instills professionalism, self-confidence and real-world work experience that students can take forward into academia and careers. Some students out of this program are working media professionals. Julius Vaughns was co-editor of the Junior Spectrum in the summer of 2002. With a scholarship, and bound for the Pulliam School of Journalism at Indiana’s Franklin College, he was intent on becoming a reporter for the L.A. Times or New York Times. Vaughns recalled his summer experience at the Spectrum. “I learned several things. I learned how to work on a team of people that were all trying to work toward the same goal of getting this paper put out at the end of the summer. So I learned collaboration,” said Vaughns. “I learned – when I was 18 at the time – to be a leader, because of the students in the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation; Kia and I were the oldest. They were all several years younger, but there was that opportunity for them to all look up to us as peers. I learned a little bit of that leadership aspect.” “I learned how to be an editor of a newspaper. I had been yearbook editor, but the writing and the subject matter were different. It expanded my knowledge of newspapers, and it intrigued me even more to follow through with this in college. I was a member of the newspaper staff in college. It aligned well for me,” said Vaughns. Vaughns recently accepted a public information officer position with Aurora Water, after several years as a communication specialist with Aurora Public Schools. He is grateful that


Harris saw something in him and gave him his first shot. “That summer I learned how to interact with adults in the workplace. I learned how to be prompt and keep my word and do what I said I would do. Just getting all that exposure at a young age, I think helped me tremendously to become and do some of the things I have been able to do at this point in my life. It is just something that I look back on because I don’t know where I would be without that. So I am glad that I had that type of exposure at a young age, to show me how to carry myself, how to work in a newsroom – a lot of the things people in the industry might take for granted.” Kia, who Vaughns refers to, is Kia Milan, who until recently was a marketing associate with Starz. Milan was the editor of the Junior Spectrum from when she was 14 to 16 years old, and was the co-editor with him that summer. The values, lessons, skills and knowledge gleaned from her experience she has carried well into her career. She didn’t write for the school newspaper, because it could not be as fulfilling as the Junior Spectrum where she was able to tackle more controversial and meaningful issues. “I had a story, ‘Is Color Still an Issue?’ about colorism. And I don’t think that would have been a story that would ever have made it into my high school paper. But the Spectrum gave me that opportunity to write about something that I cared about. I remember that story very well. It was one of the ones that I won a CABJ award for,” said Milan. Nearly 150 students have gone through the summer program with the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation, and been exposed to numerous facets of and career paths in the media business. Many of them are journalists or PR professionals. Milan’s first job out of high school was as a production assistant with the Spectrum. “I contribute a lot of my professional success to the Spectrum, because I was given that opportunity at such a young age to feel comfortable doing those things,” said Milan. “So when it was time for me to walk into that entry-level position, I could stand a little taller knowing I had a strong foundation. And I thank Bee for that.” Seeing the impact it had on Kia, her mother got her brother Shane into the program as well. He did the graphics for the story on colorism and received a CABJ award for it as well. Today Shane Franklin, aka SF1,

is on 95.7 the Party and is well known in hip-hop circles. He has been considered for Grammys and has won the Westword magazine readers poll for best hip-hop artist or best hip-hop group three years in a row. Franklin came into the program in middle school, and said one of the most important lessons was deadlines and professionalism. He likes that he was able to write anything that seemed relevant to youth in the community. “I wrote everything from poetry to tackling social issues. One of my favorite articles I wrote was ‘What is an American?’ And people are like, ‘You are only in 8th grade; what do you know about this?’ I think that is what I enjoyed about the youth paper was that it was whatever we wanted; whatever we were facing as youth, we could put it in the newspaper, so that we were a voice for the youth in this community through the Urban Spectrum. Anything from social issues to poetry to music and the fun stuff that was happening; it was limitless for what we could do with that paper.” Whenever Harris puts out the call for support, Milan and Franklin are ready to respond. “I think Ms. Harris has been the backbone of the community for years, and has gone through a lot with this paper,” says Franklin. “There have been times when she could have said, ‘You know what, I’m done,’ or ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ or ‘I don’t have the passion,’ or ‘I don’t feel I have the support anymore,’ but she has always found a way to keep it going. And I admire that a lot. If I learned anything from her, it’s perseverance.” Perseverance for Franklin and resilience for Kia, they were inspired by those values to reach success. Inspiration is part of the mission of Denver Urban Spectrum. “Since we have been a monthly publication, our goal has always been to enlighten and inform our readers. We were never in the scooping business, so we have been fortunate enough to cover stories that have brought that insight to the communities of color since 1987,” said Harris.

Adulthood Ryan Ross, Ph.D., started the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado for the purpose of encouraging more students of color to pursue higher education. For him, the Spectrum is an essential resource. “I’m a believer that education happens in a variety of ways. It’s delivered in a variety of manners. As a Continued on page 6

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Continued from page 5 community, our truth is often only told in certain venues,” said Ross. “So for me it’s important to have a community paper like the Urban Spectrum to ensure that holistic education is told. It’s important that we get a true in depth understanding of the AfricanAmerican experience from a historical and contemporary standpoint and that paper is what gets that done.” Harris says the top five nationallyrelated stories for the Spectrum include a series of stories on President Barack Obama, profiles on First Lady Michelle Obama, Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey, and several features on the Motherland. A strength of the paper is its ability to frame the experience of local communities of color in the national context. She said, “It has consistently provided a platform for the general population and provided a voice for candidates, giving readers and the general public information to make informed decisions for the betterment of their future. And DUS has participated by sponsoring events that support the common good of the community.” Ross has used the Spectrum as a platform and his go-to tool to get the word out about what he is doing and what needs to be done. If there is no credible venue for these issues, these important conversations in the community don’t take place. “These conversations are important because they are the conversations that we want to hear. They are conversations we value. They are conversations that we think are really important, and so it is our place to have and tell that story,” said Ross. “It has also become a tool for our students to then take the paper, and take it to majority outlets or different conversations and be able to show that these different conversations are happening, and use it as a tool to get other people to see what is going on. So without that tool we wouldn’t have the opportunity to challenge people’s thinking, because those stories or details wouldn’t be listed or wouldn’t exist.” The Spectrum continues to inform, even as it adapts to new modes of digital delivery and reaches out to communities like Montbello with more focused publications like the MUSE (Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition) which she produces in conjunction with the Montbello Organizing Committee. “There is still a need for the Denver Urban Spectrum. And although many people get their news electronically on their phone, tablets and computers, many people still look forward to picking up, touching and feeling the actual printed publication,” said

Harris. “Many of our readers enjoy reading the publication online and on our website and we are grateful for that.” The Spectrum has allowed Harris to meet celebrities and luminaries like Oprah, Desmond Tutu, Cedric the Entertainer and the Obamas. She is grateful for these interactions, but the biggest rewards come from continuing to do the essential work of the publication. “The biggest rewards for me have been to tell stories that really provide impact to our people and stories that people don’t know about. I always say we are a recorder of history,” said Harris. “One example is Leo Smith, who is originally from Cameroon. I have known her since 1999, and until recently, when she wanted me to help her prepare for an award she was to receive, I never knew she was the very first Black flight attendant for a major airlines. We were able to tell her story. That is just one of many.” After having shared thousands of stories and had untold impact in the community, she said, “I guess the biggest reward has been giving the opportunity to budding journalists to experience and refine their craft and to mentor youth through our youth foundation who pursued careers in journalism.” “Our 30th anniversary theme is “Power 30…More Today Than Yesterday.” The spirit of this theme is two-fold. One, we love and appreciate the support from our advertisers, readers, sponsors, family and friends, more today than yesterday. Two, and to show our gratitude, we plan to give and love so much more tomorrow,” she concluded. Congratulations to Denver Urban Spectrum on 30 years of caring and loving the community. And here’s to many more years of informing us about issues and significant events, entertaining us with articles about arts and entertainment, and inspiring us with news of opportunities and achievements. 


Their Future is Open, Taking Steps to Realize Their Dreams By Charles Emmons Leadership Forum, continues to do that, and three students in the program are taking steps to ensure their futures. Earlier generations in Denver remember having public high schools named for the four compass points and a few presidents. Today, the city population has increased and educational philosophies and funding have changed, there are 39 Denver Public School high schools from which to choose, each offering their own take on education. Choosing is daunting for a student and their parents.

Neeliah Neeliah Allen-Chatmon has attended DSST (Denver School of Science and Technology) Stapleton for seven years since the 6 grade and wants to be an audio engineer. “Engineers make things and I love making things. I loved making things as a child,” said Allen-Chatmon. “I loved building houses and whatnots out of Legos. And my mom also emphasized there are many different fields that you can

choose from in engineering. So I decided to be an engineer, but I didn’t know what kind, so I decided to be an audio engineer and producer someone who makes beats.” Youth With a Future played a large part in her decision to pursue this career. This past summer participants researched occupations they were interested in. This helped clarify her path. “I remember one day we had done our research on the occupations we were interested in. They also influenced me to call up the schools and ask a couple of questions.” AllenChatmon has applied to New York University, San Francisco University and several others. Calling up schools and asking questions about their programs - how many of us would have done that? Allen-Chatmon is taking steps to control her future, and she is intent on having an impact on others.

Deja’von Deja’von Crittendon first started taking photographs with a small disposable camera, the kind passed out at

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ith the rhetoric and proposed new policies of the current administration, communities of color are taken aback, as the progress made in the last 50 years seems in peril. We must arm ourselves with knowledge for counterarguments, and be ready with resistance based on the strengths and values that have gotten us this far. This knowledge development and subsequent transfer to younger generations is critical, and it is never too soon to start. Self-reliance, self-improvement, following your dreams, and making a contribution are some of the values that drive us. But where does the exposure culminate? Where do we learn these? Is it the school’s responsibility to prepare our youth in this manner? Should it occur in the home? Sometimes we must look for some alternative sources for our inspiration, and Youth With a Future, a companion program to the private nonprofit organization, Transformational

Allen-Chatmon is a senior this year, but has told her cousin about the program. A trip to Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian African-American Museum is planned, and she can barely contain her enthusiasm. “I know we are going to the African-American Museum, and I want to see that for myself, but I also want to help others experience it. Youth With a Future steeps these students in eight core values, mentorship of others is one, but for AllenChatmon the most important is family. “My favorite one as a priority is family. I remember they said what affects the household affects the neighborhood, affects the city, so of course it really had a huge influence on me, so I love the core values. I will always remember the core values.” Family helped Allen-Chatmon discover her path. Her first love is singing, but her family took her aside for an in depth discussion about behind the scenes in the industry. Thus she made a choice for plan B, an audio engineer. It may take a family’s nudge in discovering our passions, or we may discover them in solitary pursuits.


8 Core Values -Youth With a Future and Transformational Leadership Forum 1. Choice of mentor 2. Passion for education and helping others 3. Visionary Leadership 4. Culturally relevant communication 5. Multiplication of leaders 6.Family as a priority 7. Integrity 8.Stewardship

wedding receptions. Crittendon’s subjects were family, the city and nature. A junior at Denver School of the Arts in Northeast Denver, he has since graduated to a Nikon DSLR and Canon EOS for his prolific work. Crittendon believes a keen eye will get him where he wants to go, which is eventually to other parts of the world. “I’m interested in pop and political culture, environmental and social issues, Crittendon said. “I enjoy doing research about different types of lifestyles and to have a better understanding about different types of living perspectives like from a first world to a third world country.” Although Crittendon has an interest in journalism, he is studying stagecraft at the school and is the vice president of the photography club. Crittendon’s portfolio of work on Instagram showcases his talents, and when he attended the monthly meeting of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) in March, the CABJ Oresident Gabrielle Bryant recruited him for a future digital photography workshop for its members. Perhaps he doesn’t know what he has gotten into, but he shows the confidence to complete the task. “I think it’s important to share my vision with the world because a lot of people have unheard voices, and they are not truly understood,” Crittendon said. “I feel like I am one of those people, so being able to showcase photography I am able to communicate to the world in a different way, my view and vision towards life.”

Chaya Visionary leadership is another key core value Youth With a Future has shared with these students. Exposure to every opportunity cultivates this. Chaya Brown attends Denver South High School, and wants a career in the arts. Last summer she was the youngest member of the cast in the Aurora Fox Arts Center production of The Final Fight of the Freedom Fighters, directed by donnie l. betts who found her in a showcase at the Colorado School of Acting where she takes classes. betts encouraged Brown to pursue her dreams and advised her that in film and theatre there will be more “no’s” than “yes’s.” “But he encouraged me to pursue at least one “yes” that will get me to where I want to be or to grow,” Brown said. Youth need someone in their corner to push them to their limits. “Youth With a Future helped me to envision what I want. I always knew I wanted to be a part of the arts and acting, but it really helped me set a focused path to get there,” Brown said. “I’ve got to always be focused on it. I’ve got to be doing well academically and as a person. I’ve got to be confident in myself and just not let anything get in my way from letting me feel like I can’t do it, like pushing myself and challenging myself to get there.” Youth With a Future fills in important gaps of experience and knowledge. Even though information is abundant and easily accessible, some

students are not getting it. Even with more school choices that have more specific missions, programs like Youth With a Future filla an important need, and seeing ourselves in the experience of others is critical. We can’t predict what they might glean from it. Brown, like Allen-Chatmon and Crittendon is excited about the prospect of visiting Washington D.C. to see the best of us at the new African-American Museum. “I really want to go on the D.C. tip and to the new Museum of AfricanAmerican History. It is so new and so big and is getting so much attention and African-American museums don’t get that much attention. People don’t give them the respect that they deserve,” Brown said. “This new one really intrigues me because of all it has to offer. It seems like our history only goes so far. I only know the basics that you see during Black History Month. Every Black History Month we talk about the same people and I think that’s great, but there is so much more

to know. And while I am in D.C., I want to see some of the historically Black colleges and what they offer. Even though I want to go to a big acting school, it’s important not to overlook the historically Black schools. “Youth With a Future has helped to plant nice core values for us, which includes value of our cultures. I go to South High School, which is one of the most diverse schools with a lot of students that look like me and people that don’t. It helped me see how to value other cultures around me, and my own culture and how to be strong in who you are, and how to lift up other people who are really strong in their culture as well.” Frequently, it takes the whole culture and community to lift up the next generation. These young people are moving into a better future. If you would like to get connected, offer support with time, mentorship and expertise, or with a donation to help them realize their trip to see history, visit, www.ywfleaders.com. 

Town Hall Meeting

The Future of Blair-Caldwell Library and Upcoming 2017 Denver Bond Campaign

Thursday, April 13th 5:30- 7:30PM Blair-Caldwell Library 2401 Welton Street, Denver, CO 80205 Panelists Include State Representative James Coleman Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb President of the Urban League of Metro Denver Sean Bradley Program 5:30 - 6:30 PM: Meet and Greet 6 PM: Presentation from Denver City Librarian Michelle Jeske 6:30 -7:15 PM: Question and Answer Session 7:15 PM: Summation by Former Mayor Wellington Webb 7:30 PM: Adjourn

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2017


The Denver (Colo.) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated

Connecting the Chain of Friendship and Sisterhood for 65 Years By Charles Emmons

S

ince its inception in 1946, The Links, Incorporated (The Links) has been a beacon for African-American advancement in economics, education, and service. Two accomplished Black women, Margaret Hawkins, an artist and teacher, and Sarah Strickland Scott, a passionate guidance counselor, first brought together their friends to form an inter-city club in Philadelphia. They quickly realized that success was not sustainable unless others in the community who shared their passion were invited too. Together, they established an organization that would have a three-prong focus – civic, educational and cultural. Since its founding, The Links now has more than 15,000 professional women members, and its local chapters have developed enduring partnerships with national corporations, local foundations, and non-profits in advancing their goals in communities in four regions including 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Bahamas. The Denver (Colo.) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated (Denver Links) was founded in 1952 by Fairfax B. Holmes. A notable member from this first group of women included educator, politician and civil rights activist

Rachel B. Noel. Today, the Denver Links has 56 active members and 12 alumni members, which include Little Rock Nine’s Carlotta Walls Lanier and former first lady of Denver Wilma Webb. While best known for hosting community favorite Ebony Fashion Fair Luncheon for more than 45 years (ending 2007), the Denver Links has contributed more than $1 million to programs that advance the education, economics and culture of the Metro Denver African-American community and beyond, including a $10K donation to renovate a primary school in Durbin, South Africa and a $50K donation to support the establishment of the Blair Caldwell AfricanAmerican Research Library in 2002. The library’s community conference room is named in honor of the Denver

Denver Links and Hallett Fundamental Academy students participate in healthy nutrition program.

Links, and is an inspiration and tribute to the chapter’s continued philanthropy. The $50K donation was the culmination of fundraising for The Links, Incorporated Western Area Conference in 2001, hosted by the Denver chapter (also, then celebrating its 50th anniversary). To mark Denver Links’ 65 years, the Western Area Conference returns to Denver June 14, to and will host more than 800 representatives from 59 communities in the 10 states (Alaska, Arizona California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Texas) that make up the region headed by Western Area Director Roxann Chargois. “Our local, area, and national community investments – our time, talent,

treasure and testimony, from members, chapters, areas, community partners and corporations and foundations have positively impacted the African-American community through the years, allowing programs to be introduced, expanded and sustained as our community needs have continually changed.”- LaDawn Sullivan, President Denver (Colo.) Chapter, Links Incorporated. Since its founding, the purpose of The Links has not changed from its focus on education, economics and culture, but it has evolved. “A Mind for Business and a Heart for Service” is the theme that was adopted for the 2015-2017 biennium. Understanding that business and service in the community fit hand to glove, there are high expectations of chapters and members to focus on the national organization’s five facets and develop local programs to meet community needs. •Services to Youth •National Trends •International Trends •Health and Human Services •The Arts In Denver, there is currently an umbrella program at Hallett Fundamental Academy supported and led by the Denver Links that integrates the five facets with educational and culturally relevant activities. Working “to equip Black youth to use their intellect and spirit of achieveContinued on page 4

Volunteers of America receive donations collected at Denver Links’ chapter meetings.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2017


Santa and Denver Chapter elves visit Hallett students.

The Links Continued from page 2 ment to become successful and productive citizens,” the program focuses on K-5 students in building and sustaining a strong foundation of basic fundamentals, culture awareness, and a healthy curiosity. Students at the academy are also becoming global citizens. In the

Change for Haiti program, students collect change and donate money to the Children of Haiti project. Local businesses, foundations, and Denver Links members have stepped up with matching funds. Through the Black History Showcase, 5th grade students developed presentations describing the influence of African-Americans in the civil rights movement which

included a “hands-on” exploration of African American firsts and inventors with their families. “This is part of the long and growing legacy of the Denver Links,” says Denver Chapter President LaDawn Sullivan. The first project of the chapter in 1952 was providing shoes for local needy children. The members did this locally for years and it eventually evolved into providing shoes for children in Africa and Haiti. “Some children living in Haiti are required to wear black shoes in order to attend school,” said Sullivan, “So, we’ve collected shoes every year and sent them to the island.” Sullivan, who came into Denver Links a little over eight years ago, has also seen the expansion of the international focus as the Denver chapter supported a Ugandan female student with annual tuition through high school graduation and most recently the Western Area’s fresh water well project in Haiti. The African-American population in Denver and Colorado may be considered small in comparison to other parts of the country, but it has made significant investments and impact through its philanthropic efforts. The Denver Links has been considered a pioneer in this effort with a long history of giving back to secure a bright future for the community. For more than 25 years (ending 2005) Tribute to Black Youth, a scholarships program, recognized over 500 middle and high school students highlighting student achievement and community service. Former scholarship recipients include Denver’s own Mayor Michael Hancock. “We have been a pro-active community partner, but we have also been tapped to connect in areas that are important to Denver’s AfricanAmerican community,” said Sullivan. Denver Links has also partnered with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and more recently Curious Theatre, in an effort to lift the AfricanAmerican story through the arts. The Denver Links has supported numerous grassroots non-profit organizations including Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and The Spirituals Project as well as Historic Black Colleges and Universities. This year’s Hallett students will be able to attend the Cleo Parker Robinson Summer Dance Camp, thanks to the generosity of the Denver Links and Western Area chapters of The Links, Inc. Conference attendees will be invited to visit the dance camp as well as the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library. “We are going to provide an opportunity for our visitors to see the Denver community, meet our young people and hear about their experiences,” said Sullivan. Denver Links’

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2017

Denver Chapter Member Ida Daniel spends time on the green with Hallett First Tee participants.

member Terry Nelson, Senior Special Collection and Community Resource Manager will give tours of the library and share information about Denver’s rich African-American history. The collective investment of time and talent has been central to the Denver Links’ community impact. Logging an average of 4,500 local service hours per year (more than one million nationwide), Denver Links local

“Our local, area, and national community investments – our time, talent, treasure and testimony, from members, chapters, areas, community partners and corporations and foundations have positively impacted the African American community through the years, allowing programs to be introduced, expanded and sustained as our community needs have continually changed.

LaDawn Sullivan, President Denver (CO) Chapter, Links Incorporated

programs and activities align with the national organization’s position that the five facets are holistic solutions to both little known and well-known issues surfacing in the community. Leaders within Links know that these initiatives continue to have positive impact. If families are supported with healthy living advocacy and habits, coupled with relevant cultural knowledge and experiences, supportive guidance and mentorship, then children can successfully complete their


educational journey and step confidently into the future. The Western Area Conference in June will include two tracks of the biennium theme, a Mind for Business, as well as a focus on running chapters effectively while embracing a Heart for Service that focuses on critical social issues where Links can continue investing resources for service in the global community. One of the Heart for Service sessions will focus on the 59 For the Future pilot program, in which young girls from each Western Area chapter are engaged in global community issues through strategic thinking, conversation, mentorship, research and writing. The program was created it “to develop thought

Hallett 5th graders participate in annual newspaper club.

leaders and change agents among youth, preparing them to examine and address complex global issues while increasing their competitiveness for college admission and the global marketplace.”

Western Area Director Roxann Chargois enjoys a day on the slopes with Hallett students and Denver Chapter Members.

As the Denver (Colo.) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated kicks off its 65th year, they are recognized locally as one of the sustaining AfricanAmerican organizations that has supported and advanced our community and embraced humanity. Although many people see it as a service organization making significant impact it is more than that. “Denver Links is made up of almost 70 vibrant African American women from varied professions and connections in the Metro Denver community, but what binds us together is our love for community, and our love and support of each other. Because it is a sisterhood,” said Sullivan. “Looking back at 65 years, we have come full circle. We began our journey with a Tribute to Black Youth scholars and our work with Hallett students today include parents

WE CARE ABOUT THIS COMMUNITY AS IF IT WERE OUR HOME. BECAUSE IT IS.

who were originally recognized as scholars decades earlier. We are a circle of sisters, 65 years young and strong – bound together in friendship and dedicated to serving our community.”  Editor’s note: For more information visit www.denverlinksinc.org or www.linksinc.org.

Denver Chapter Member Toi Massey spending time with Hallett kindergartners.

If you c are about where you live, yo u d o w h a t y o u c a n t o t a k e c a r e o f the place. You volunteer, you give b a c k , yo u h e l p o t h e r s , a n d yo u t r y t o m a ke t h e n e i g h b o r h o o d b e t t e r f o r ever ybody. That ’s how we feel about this communit y. And that ’s why we do what we do. That ’s our Colorado energy future. For details, visit xcelenergy.com/COEnergyFuture.

© 2017 Xc el Ener g y Inc .

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2017


Volume 31

Number 3

June 2017

Songwriter,Artist, Producer & Visionary Bobby Wells Giving joy, spreading love, expressing gratitude...2 Photo by Kathy Wells


Back In The Day... By Charles Emmons Photos by Kathy Wells

and Today

M

any of us find our

calling in adversity. The more challenges we face, we shift gears, we climb higher, and the greater impact we can have through sharing our gifts. Our reward is not always monetary. Often the joy of creation becomes our incentive. Denver musician, producer, Bobby Wells brought together a group of musicians to create the Power30 theme song in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Denver Urban Spectrum. For Wells it was a labor of love for publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris. Wells has loved music since he was a child in Omaha, Nebraska. Like many young boys, he wanted to play sports, but he was sidelined. From the age of six months old he had asthma and even had to stay in a hospital home for more than a year. He gravitated towards artful things. Inspired by a home environment filled with music, Wells decided to pick up an instrument in elementary school. “I was always around music. I got a daily dose of soul, pop, jazz and Christian music. Whether from my dad, aunties, uncles, siblings, my uncle Sammie D, or just Mom singing around the house, it came to me strong and I wanted to play something. None of my siblings really aspired to play an instrument. My sister Pamela found her voice and continues to sing and my brother Keith gave percussion a try, but I thought I’d pick up the trombone. Whew, probably the worst instrument to play because you need a lot of wind to make it work. I gave that up after a few classes in elementary school.” Wells eventually found a home on the drums and the piano. “While

piano was very hard, drums almost came naturally. In my teenage years my mother was given a drum set that was previously owned by a famous drummer named Luigi Waites,” said Wells. “I never met him but his drums were so cool. The kick drum was in a teardrop shape and a slightly purple color. That was the beginning. I began playing in church. I also began tapping out songs and melodies on piano with two fingers.” Wells’ talent is naturally innate. His music education is not extensive, but he does not recommend bypassing going to school. “I mainly played by ear - still do. I took a class in high school. At that point, I knew what I was hearing but I couldn’t quite get things to move smoothly with my hands and feet on this trap set. One day after class another student asked me, “What hand are you, are you right or left handed?” I said, “Left-handed.” After that he changed the drums around for me and immediately things began to fall into place. I could feel the grooves, I could move like an eagle in the sky. I could play almost anything.”

with Bobby Wells

including Kool and the Gang, Temptations and more. “Other family relatives I was inspired by are Michael Hill, Ronnie/Donnie Beck (Tower Of Power-drums), Carol Rogers (Sergio Mendez)…all great musicians. I was personally inspired by drummers and keyboardist like Keith Rogers, Tommy Thomas, Glen Franklin, Gus McNair and David Carter,” said Wells. In Omaha, Wells was exposed to the three genres of music that would begin to define him, Gospel, jazz Songwriter/Artis/Producer Bobby Wells and soul. He also began to love instrumental music that crossed all genres. “I heard Bobby’s early commercial music this music in our home and I always influences veered away somewhat like to say, “I heard jazz by my from what he heard around home, as Dad…as mom and us children headed he explored the Omaha music scene. out to church, then I heard church “I started listening to Cobham, Lenny music, the rest of the day. We had an White, Buddy Rich, Jeff Beck, Tower AM Radio station in my hometown of Power, New Birth because I wanted growing up called KOIL Radio. They to learn, but it was better for me by played everything on that one station. ear. I later learned that many in the I listened to a lot of music while under music field didn’t read music, like Phil oxygen tents in hospitals. So I became Collins, James Van Buren. However, accustomed to all kinds of music. schooling has its benefits in that you When I heard instrumentals of any can play with anyone at any time by kind, like Wes Montgomery, Brubeck, just reading charts. As for piano, it I’d get real excited for some reason; was sort of the same thing. I would maybe because I could hear the instrutap out melodies and make songs.” ments playing better. Now Herbie just Writing songs became his forte’. He amazed me!” Herbie Hancock is just spent most of his time writing songs, one of the artists that Wells found so sometimes one a week. “My practice appealing. “There was a time in my was writing, not playing or reading life when “Cry Baby” music lost its music,” said Wells. appeal. Everything was about winning The music business is tough, but or losing your girl…all night long Wells found inspiration in the vibrant kind of lyrics. Personally, I didn’t musical environment of Omaha that want that anymore, so I began listenhas also nurtured and produced other ing to instrumentals and freeing up luminaries such as Terry Lewis and my mind. While listening I could travBuddy Miles. His cousins in a group el where I wanted to, I was free. I was called the Steppen Stonz were frenot locked into some guy’s sad lyrics quently called upon to open for or hang-ups,” said Wells. He began to national acts coming through Omaha, be more interested in playing as he

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2017


heard the orchestration of Barry White, Isaac Hayes, Steve Wonder, George Benson and Grover Washington as they came on the scene. Later on, he heard something that caught his attention. Hearing artist such as Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Art porter, Rob Mullins, Images and many others just lit him up – catchy, Earth Wind & Fire kind of hooks, and finally, music without words, “There’s music for everyone, you just need to find what makes you happy. Instrumentals are what I like the most. There are so many styles of music I like that cross the globe culturally. People will split hairs on you quickly. To me, if a song helps you in your situation, then we’ve done our work. My music is a crossover of many things I’ve listened to from radio to movie scores.” While Wells has a talent and ear for making music, he is hard to peg and doesn’t like boxes and is equally at home creating mood music, instrumentals and Christian music, which is also deeply rooted in his repertoire. Growing up in a Baptist home, Wells said “My mother Dorothy did the right thing by taking us children to church. I’ve had plenty valleys in my life but I was able to get through them by the help of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ kept me humble and grounded. He helped me understand that there is always someone who can play better that you. I wouldn’t say I shifted back and forth from Christian to Jazz music because I like both. I don’t go too far to the left or to the right on things. I love Christian music because it speaks of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m a born again Christian before I will call myself anything else.” Bobby Wells’ faith informs and drives his music creation and purpose. “When I write music I go to a place of rest first, or if I need a pick-me-up on the highway, I’ll write fast music. If every house on a block was painted white and you stuck a green house in the middle, something in a creative person’s mind would try other colors right away. I’m glad that my music touches so many different kinds of people. I can’t call myself a true jazz player either. I’m not a purist like some may be and that’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with that.” A variety of music continues to inspire Wells. What informs his creation and writing songs is anything that seems significant at the moment. “Many things inspire me - I could be looking at a photo, resting, joy, peace, thinking about my Lord, a panoramic view, colors, things around me, smiles, scenes unfolding when I’m out and about with my children or grandchildren, my sweetheart and wife Kathy

on road trips, gatherings, sea life, fellowships, events. Most of the time music comes from hearing a rhythm or a melody pop in my head.” With his music, Wells strives for a feeling of comfort and satisfaction, the same sort that his Mother got from cooking the family a meal and watching the children eating, laughing, neighbors and friends stopping by and giving her compliments. “My, I can’t even come close to those memories but I try with my music.” Well’s music, many times over the years has been coined as “feel good music” by reviewers. Whether its Christian music, smooth jazz, commercials, cor-

porate, etc. it’s still in the range of creativity,” said Wells. The greats across genres – James Brown, Wes Montgomery, Dave Brubeck, Aretha Franklin, The Doobie Brothers, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, George Benson, Barry White, James Cleveland, Andre Crouch, Roby Duke, and DJ Rogers – have inspired Wells. This foundational creativity has been tapped through collaborations with contemporary artists such as Michael O’Neill, Gerald Albright and Eric Marienthal. Wells met O’Neill at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Anaheim, CA.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2017

He was so impressed by O’Neill and Ronnie Fosters’ performance, as they “threw a million notes per bar at him,” that he thought it was time to retire from music. He and O’Neill talked at a later show and they hit it off and continue as friends today. “A man of his caliber having a conversation with me…wow! I always believed that we should be that way with younger musicians coming up. I’ve always thought we should treat everyone with respect, and acknowledge people when they are speaking to you. Some get a little bit of fame and you can’t talk with them anymore. My Continued on page 4


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Continued from page 3 advice is your character and how you treat others is more important than your accolades. How we treat others can have a chain reaction on someone positively or negatively – no matter how big or small your name. And don’t forget those who helped you, in some way, get where you are. I learned this in church.” His accolades and musical achievements are many and diverse. He was named “Band of the Year” by KHIH 95.7 radio station and People’s choice. The Colorado Rockies called on him to perform at a special 50th Anniversary celebration in recognition of Baseball Player Jackie Robinson. Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb proclaimed “August 10, 1998 to be Bobby Wells day.” Wells was also inducted into The Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame 2007 alongside the (late) Buddy Miles, LA Carnival, Crackin, Lois “Lady Mac” McMorris, Terry Lewis, Steppen Stonz, Lester Abrams, Calvin Keys, Arno Lucas and authors like Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rogers. Bobby and vocalist Yvonne Brown sung the National Anthem at Denver’s All-Star Game - Home Run Derby. He performed at the “Summit of Eight” which included President Clinton and six other World leaders. He has been interviewed numerous times on TV and was also featured on Channel 9 News in a segment called “Unsung Heroes.” Wells and his band have played for children with Asthma (National Jewish) and even the homeless. He has had that much impact in the community. “It’s not just about us, it’s about our community as well, outreach is so important.” Wells and Harris have known each other for years since he moved to Denver. The first band Bobby played with in Denver was a reggae band, “I love the island rhythms.” He formed his own band after blues singer James

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2017

Van Buren told him to “get out of the house and let others hear your music.” So when Harris came to him with the idea for the 30th anniversary theme song and introduced Wells to Jah Goatfish, he got excited. “Bee Harris has been a friend for many, many years, going back to the KHIH Days. I’m so impressed with her tenacity, style, bringing people together and keeping them informed. Her paper has withstood the test of time and it’s always been classy. She presented me with a challenge to do a remake of the song “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” by the Spiral Staircase. I liked the song and thought since Jah sings so many styles, and he dresses so colorful, I thought Reggae would be a good fit. So I created a Steel Pulse style rendition of the song titled, “More Today Than Yesterday,” and they both liked it. I was honored to work with Jah, an incredibly talented singer who can sing in many languages, and my very good friend Bee Harris.” For this 30th anniversary of DUS, Wells brought in Denver’s own guitarist Dr. Isidro Aybar Jr., who has worked with Wells on several occasions. Wells says, “Aybar is an incredible guitarist talent whom I’ve called on since my early days in smooth jazz; from my first CD to my most recent CD, Back In The Day where he performed on the song “End Of Summer.” Wells has also worked, and met in some fashion, several wellknown producers such as Ken Navarro, Steve Sykes, Rick Braun, John Barnes, Tony Dixon.” He met Gerald Albright at a NAMM show just before Albright moved to Denver. Wells and wife Kathy returned to Denver about 10 years ago and longtime friend Chuck Berry. While playing golf, Wells was introduced to Albright. “Chuck has been a great friend and fellow musician. Chuck made it possible for me to receive a Proclamation and I’m so glad to know


How it all began for Bobby Wells

him. He’s always willing to help lend a hand and I appreciate and I’m grateful for his knowledge of music.” Albright played bass guitar on Wells’ first Christian CD, Here With You Lord, as well as, the latest Smooth Jazz CD released in 2016, Back in the Day, on which he played bass on two selections, “Tee it Up” and “Bella’s Pier.” Wells feels blessed to have such a talent available in Denver on his projects. “Out of love for the many musicians that have helped me in my music career I want to mention a few…Eric Marienthal, Yvonne Brown, Pamela Renee, Brandy Wells, Darren Rahn, Rick Braun, Bryan Savage, Dik Darnell, Mel Brown, Lawrence Simms, Randy Chavez, Gino Diquincio, Bob Rebholz, Andy Goldberg, Larry Thompson, Jesus Mendez, Isidro Aybar Jr., Nelson Rangell, Vernon Barbary, Michael Delnegro, Freddie Fox and my computer guys and gurus Myron Chandler and Terry Black. (Sorry if I missed anyone.) There are so many talented musicians in the Denver area, and if I can help in some way, I’ll give it a try.” Musicians across the country are reaching out to Wells to create music. Creating music is more than his vocation. It has become his solace.

Even his eloquent postings on his Facebook page in response to the dayto-day world are often lyrical. “It’s who I am. It’s funny…I’m human, sure there are things that frustrate me like watching the news, computer news… there are times that I’m confronted with assembling a cabinet, and I’m forced to use an Allen wrench; I just don’t like that tool for some reason, how about yellow spots in my backyard made by our little pooch named Solo. Most of the time music gets me up, happy, intrigued, excited, and spiritual. There’s something about taking a rhythm and making it come alive, taking a sound or vocal and using it in your latest melody – experimentation of it all. Now, an even growing number of artists are using my music on their records. I like to produce and help other artist or groups make their sound better. Every canvas is art waiting to be discovered, hung and enjoyed.” Editor’s note: For more information about Bobby Wells visit bobbywellsmusic.com or email bobbywellsmusic@earthlink.net. To hear his latest music, visit http://www.cdbaby.com/all/bwsmooth or iTunes, Amazon. You can also find him on Facebook, Pandora and other Social Media. bobbywellsmusic@earthlink.net

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The History Makers Return To Denver By Charles Emmons

E

veryone has a story to tell and everyone is significant. When families gather for reunions this summer, this must be at the forefront. If you have someone in your family that has done something particularly significant, get to know them, cherish your interactions, and preserve what they have done. This is maybe what Paul Stewart thought when he established the first Black American West Museum in the basement of Clayton College, and then later moved it into Dr. Justina Ford’s home in 1988. Stewart had the foresight to create a space for preserving our history. He was a History Maker who was ahead of his time. Stewart was also one the Colorado residents to be recognized by The History Makers, a Chicago based organization making great strides nationally in preserving the significant and seemingly insignificant accom-

Back L-R: Mark Goodman, The HistoryMakers Executive Director and Founder Julieanna Richardson, JoKatherine Page, Jerome Page, The Honorable Yvonne Atkinson Gates, Terry Nelson, Dianne Reeves, Carlotta Walls LaNier, C. Lamont Smith, Gayle Greer, The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner; Dr. William King, Dr. Warren Washington, Mrs. Mary Washington, Dr. James Curry; The Honorable Penfield Tate III. Front L-R: Rosalind “Bee” Harris, Ed Dwight, Dr. Waverly Person Photographer: Justin Reed, All Digital Studios

plishments of African-Americans across the country. Stewart’s museum rooms illustrate life of Black homesteaders, farmers, ranchers and cowboys as well as Dr. Ford’s examination room. The History Makers recognized more than 30 Black Coloradoans for their accomplishments, and they returned to Denver for a reception hosted by Dr. Warren Washington, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and his wife, Mary, to promote the program

which has compiled more than 100, 000 records of African-American lives with the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The History Makers, based in the South Loop of Chicago, goals for the digital archive include: •A multi-dimensional nexus of stories of people and of history. •An instantly digestible, living web, with limitless potential to grow. •A Collection that represents the breadth of culture, and the inter-connectivity of shared experiences. The History Makers are doing this

through video oral histories and with ordinary and accomplished AfricanAmericans across the country. There are only a few states where they have not found at least one AfricanAmerican to interview and document. Wyoming and Montana are two of them; and ironically there have only been three participants in Mississippi. Colorado has had 34 and The History Makers’ goal is to get 50 plus. Their aim is to grow roots in the community through collaborations with K12 schools, colleges and universities,

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community institutions and organizations, and the media. The History Makers have partnered with 24 major universities and public library systems that can subscribe to the service and the collection. Colorado currently has no schools in partnership, but many recognized Colorado History Makers have been associated with Colorado higher education, among them – Dr. Rachel Noel, Dr. William King, Cleo Parker Robinson and Ricardo Patton. Studies and experience in the classroom have shown the importance of students seeing themselves in the subject matter as they determine careers and life paths. The larger media can only accomplish so much. Gwen Ifill, brought The History Makers to PBS, but as Founder and Executive Director Julieanna Richardson told the intimate gathering at a reception, we are rapidly losing our History Makers, like Ifill, or they are no longer able to articulate their stories, as in the case of Lerone Bennett or Lani Guinier who both have Alzheimer’s. Colorado History Makers who are deceased include Stewart, Dr. Vincent Harding, Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers, Dr. Rachel Noel, and Denver’s griot, Opalanga Pugh. The significance of these History Makers to the community is unquestioned and those who have been recognized reads like a who’s who of Black Denver. The importance of their accomplishments is in their example for future generations, but how will they learn about them? The History Makers database of interviews on their website is keyword searchable like Google, and researchers can follow along as it scrolls through the transcripts highlighting their keywords. Five Points was used as an example in the live demonstration at the event, which yielded 71 instances in interviews. Who is in this national database? In a world where we are enamored with sports-stars and celebrities, it is notable that these don’t even make the top 10. By the numbers, here is how the content shakes out. Education makers 609 Civic makers 468 Business makers 427 Media makers 388 Art makers 269 Political makers 243 Law makers 242 Music makers 216 Science makers 214 Medical makers 130 Dr. Warren Washington, the host of the event at the Cherry Creek Country Club, is one of the 214 Science makers. He facilitated the $2.3 million to The History Makers for interviewing more than 200 noteworthy scientists. He has been at NCAR since the 60s, and is one of the nation’s first researchers and experts in a growing problem, cli-

mate change. A Stanford graduate, he studied at the University of Pennsylvania for his Ph.D., under a scientist who was Einstein’s driver. How many children in school know this? How many would aspire to be scientists if they knew about him or Katherine Johnson renown after the film Hidden Figures, who is also in the collection of interviews? The History Makers enlisted numerous famous African-Americans to get their story out there. In the 10th anniversary video, Rev. Al Sharpton remarked, “Ordinary people that did extraordinary things. That is what History Makers is. If we don’t tell that story to our children, they will never know their value.” Black people have value. And it is critical that our stories are told. “When you think about the 19th century, all Black people around the world were in an enslaved state, indentured state, or under some colony. The 20th century is the Black man’s century. It is when we made tremendous strides, but if we don’t leave the evidence that we have created, then it will be as if we did not exist,” Richardson said. Oral history has been our tradition. History Makers like Opalanga Pugh are a testament to it. But this digital archive project, 12 years in development, has combined the best of this tradition with state of the art digital technology. “If we don’t preserve this it’s as if it didn’t exist. We are essentially trying to write our story. So our goal was to take oral histories and combine it with state of the art technology Library of congress is our first step that is preservation,” Richardson said. With the Library of Congress, and significant partnerships with institutions like Carnegie Mellon University, The History Makers continue to make history. They have come so far since the first 17 interviews in Chicago of Pullman Porters, Tuskegee Airmen and professional baseball players. The History Makers was first in Denver in 2001-2002 when Blair Caldwell was just an idea. Wellington and Wilma Webb recognized the importance of preserving his story as Denver’s first African-American mayor. But there are so many other stories out there, and The History Makers want to grow roots here. Help Richardson and her team fill in the gaps. Retain and preserve documents and photographs and help them answer these questions: What should we be doing? What histories should we be telling? And what have we missed?  Editor’s note: For more information or to get involved, visit www.thehistorymakers.com

The Colorado History Makers Cleo Parker Robinson, dance company founder Ed Dwight, sculptor Mayor Wellington Webb, Denver’s 1st African American mayor Hon. Wilma J. Webb, former state representative Rosalind “Bee” Harris, newspaper publisher Hon. Allegra “Happy” Haynes, Denver City official Hon. Gloria Travis Tanner, 1st Colorado African American State Senator Hon. Penfield Tate III, attorney, state government official Dr. Evie Garrett Dennis, school administrator and Olympic Chair Charles Burrell, classical and jazz bassist Gayle Greer, cable television executive Carlotta Walls LaNier, original Little Rock Nine C. Lamont Smith, sports agent Dianne Reeves, jazz vocalist Ricardo Patton, college basketball coach Waverly Person, geophysicist Paul Stewart, historian and museum founder (2015) David A. Smith, real estate entrepreneur Alonzo Petite, rodeo cowboy Dr. Warren Morton Washington, atmospheric scientist Dr. Eileen Cline, music conservatory president Charlene Jordan, salon owner Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Olympic Gold Medal Winner Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers, Colorado’s 2nd African American Lt. Gov. (2013) Hon. Elbra Wedgeworth, Denver city official James Kaiser, corporate executive Dr. William King, university professor (black studies) Dr. Vincent Harding, historian and social activist (2014) Dr. James Curry, mathematician Opalanga D. Pugh, storyteller (2010) David Holliman, entrepreneur Rachel Noel, educator, civil rights activist, political leader (2008) Mary Louise Greenwood, educator Yvonne Atkinson Gates, County Commissioner

20 Areas of Focus •Foodways •Film and Filmmakers •Black Arts Movement •Funeral Rites •Public Health and Medical Workers •Makings of Modern Music •Poetry •Entrepreneurs •Black Radical Tradition •Sports •LGBTQ stories •Shifts in beauty culture •Migration and Black Diaspora •Black Feminism •Theology and Religious life •Sciences •Black Towns and land ownership •African Survivals •Integration and Public Life

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2017

Occupations Education makers

609

Civic makers

468

Business makers

427

Media makers

388

Art makers

269

Political makers

243

Law makers

242

Music makers

216

Science makers

214

Medical makers

130

Religion makers

124

Entertainment makers

106

Military makers

85

Sports makers

71

Style makers

49


Jamil Shabazz,

Aurora’s Visionary Author and Publisher By Charles Emmons

S

ummertime is leisure time, and we sometimes pass the time reading a good book in the quietness of our homes, travelling on a plane, or simply for some downtime alone. What world you choose to enter through your reading is a highly individual decision. There are numerous classics in African American literature, but instead why not choose a newer author with a fresher perspective on familiar surroundings. Aurora author Jamil Shabazz, will publish his second novel, “Hiding Behind the Night,” August 18. The book is a follow up to “Not Another Night,” a dramatic narrative

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that follows characters Nila and Drian through the streets of Aurora in sometimes harrowing, stressful situations, yet in familiar relatable settings like the Waffle House. Shabazz is an Overland High School alum, and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD) in African American Studies a year ago. He felt he had stories to tell, but everything he had read had settings in major metropolitan cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. But he knows that everyone’s lives are important, and that their stories, with all their challenges deserve airing that are accessible. “But I wanted a story that I could genuinely tell sincerely about places I’ve been, places I’ve lived, places I know, places people around me know and recognize and I think that adds a bit of quality to the book where if you are from that part of town, and you

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017

can say I know where that is. And it seems to be able to draw in the reader…I know exactly where that is or I know exactly what that is,” said Shabazz. “So I think it is very engaging, and it shows a positive image of the city, in terms of you live here and you write about where you’re from that necessarily doesn’t have to be one of those major cities at least the way that other people would consider it.” Lots of us can think of stories we want to tell, but few step forward to tell them. Literature is art, which gives readers a view into worlds that are both familiar and different from their own. It reflects our values and spirit, frequently inspiring our personal trajectories. Not Another Night is readily accessible in print on Amazon, and in the Nook and Kindle formats. But numbers of purchases and downloads, while success measures, take a backseat in Shabazz’s view. “I wouldn’t view it as a success,


because here is the thing. A lot of people will come to you and say they read the book. And that is fine and dandy, but I just didn’t set out to just write a book. I set out to write works of art, things that would make people think and change and give them something to leave with – something other than just a story that was exciting, titillating or something of that nature,” said Shabazz. “So to just say that you wrote a book, yeah that’s nice, but I don’t know that I can judge success in quantitative terms. It wasn’t like I sold x amount of copies or made x amount of money. I feel most honestly that as long as you keep writing and keep creating, you don’t think about what is successful and what is not successful in that regard. Did it touch people, was it meaningful to people; is it something that I can look back on and be proud of?” Shabazz touches on a number of latent topics related to the Black community which may not have been given a previous airing, including homosexuality, blended families, male relationships, and the real dramatic love relationship that drives the first book. Like in many previous novels, the Black males struggle to find their power and their place. Drian is trying to start his own business. Nila is viewed as stronger and more accom-

plished, because she is a corporate VP of Communications, and she loves and is protective of Drian’s pre-teen daughter as if she were her own. But in their relationship there is genuine love, and no jealousy or ill feelings like males have towards women in works like “Native Son” or “The Color Purple.” Shabazz sees a new reality, and he deftly handles these hopeful characters with vivid descriptions, sometimes laced with gritty language. These stories are a part of Shabazz’s soul, which came to him as he finished his academic career at MSUD. “I was in the midst of my next to last semester at Metro and with all the paperwork that was due and all the papers to be turned in. I remember not being able to sleep much, because I was working full time and trying to go to school full time and in one insomnia lead haze, I just started to write something down, how I felt, my thoughts, things of that nature. And then, I ended up taking the first couple of pages of what turned out to be my first novel to work with me and asked a couple of women to read it. I would ask them ‘what do you think about this?’ I just came up with this short story, and their reaction was quite positive.” Shabazz’s audience is women 18 to 50. His grandmother even read “Not Another Night.” Academics and

other authors often question whether men should even write with a first person point of view of women, because they don’t fully understand them and the biological and social differences that make us different. But we are human first, and we all have human needs, to love and be loved, to be cared for and for someone to show an interest and let them know that they matter, and to fight for them. These aren’t romance novels but rather dramatic examinations of how we can overcome together and get through life’s situations and challenges hopefully unscathed. “I would say it is a love story, but not romance in the traditional sense. It would be a drama novel. There would also be bits of comedy in there with love. I look at it more so as a novel about the test to the human spirit, about how to build relationships. I would say it is a relationship novel, more so than a flat out love story,” said Shabazz. “And in “Hiding Behind the Night” I feel like I got the opportunity to expand on family, and the union and chaos that can come with marrying, merging two families, and the personalities that come along with it. The second book brings in a more familial tone and incorporates the drama that comes along with it.”

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Nila and Drian’s story continues with the launch of “Hiding Behind the Night in August.” It will be the first book out under his company, Shabazz & Co. Publishing. Before his first book, he had approached numerous publishers, but all either passed on it or wanted more control than he was willing to allow. “I spent all that time writing the work, so why would I let someone else dictate the distribution and content of my art?” said Shabazz. “Shabazz & Co. Gives me the freedom to be independent, while adding another weapon in my intellectual and entrepreneurial arsenal. I also founded the company with more than just my own self-sufficiency in mind. I want to be a bridge for other creative individuals who want to take the next steps in their literary career, but are unsure which direction is best. For me, the release of “Hiding Behind The Night” is about more than just a book. It is an opportunity to introduce the world to Shabazz & Co. Publishing, while putting another brick in the foundation of my legacy.” Editor’s note: Jamil A. Shabazz, will be autographing copies of his new book at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be serviced. Follow him on Facebook, #HidingBehindTheNight.


Developing Future Leaders Through History

Left to right: Te Anna Brown (parent), Jamaika Elliott, Chayah Brown, Synaya Samoeun Keo-Reed, Executive Director Dr. Robert Fomer, Micah Ari Brown, Ta'Jeon Davis, Andrew Brown, Devyn Humphrey (board member)

By Charles Emmons

School buses, minivans and SUVS are dropping of kids as they begin the new school year. It seems like summer breaks are getting shorter, so it is prudent, if not imperative, to make sure that summer vacation experiences also have value. The Youth With a Future leadership program is doing just that, and while the number of student participants is relatively small, the impact of the program aims to be big. This summer, in late July and early August, six students capped off their summer with a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. (NMAAHC), as well as visits to the Holocaust Museum and Howard and Georgetown Universities.

When asked, ‘what did you do on your summer vacation?, who can say they saw the dress Rosa Parks wore when she was arrested or Chuck Berry’s cherry red 1973 El Dorado Cadillac convertible? These are just a few of the more than 3,500 artifacts and exhibit displays covering 600 years at the museum. The purpose of this excursion east was to show these students their history, what people have gone through for equality and progress, and to examine how that will inform their futures.

Before they left, the students met at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in July, and were challenged to think about: •What did we do? •What are we doing? •What will you do? It’s instructive for everyone to think about this as we make choices and grow into adulthood and careers. So it is important to see and know about the Stearman biplane Tuskegee Airmen used in flight instruction, or the Woolworth’s counter from

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – September 2017

Greensboro, NC where young people sat in protest of Jim Crow laws. Our stories of accomplishment and contribution are woven throughout history. This trip gave these students an opportunity to delve further beyond the highlights of the scourge of slavery and the civil rights movement. Given recent events, these critical questions are that much more important. Despite efforts to frighten and minimize our experience and contributions – earlier this year, two nooses were found in the NMAAHC exhibits. This new treasure for the country is undaunted in presenting our history to everyone. It’s the hardest ticket to get in Washington D.C. and more than one million attendees have visited since its opening a year ago. It is a history depicted as painful, as well as joyous, where Harriett Tubman’s hymnbook and George Clinton’s otherworldly spacecraft both are significant. The wreckage of a Portuguese slave ship, iron shackles used in the Middle Passage, glass shards from the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Birmingham Baptist Church, school desks from Hope School that served rural African American students in South Carolina, Michael Jackson’s fedora from the Victory Tour, are all items in our narrative. But what purpose do these


Left to right: Chayah Brown, Synaya Samoeun Keo-Reed, Andrew Brown, Jamaika Elliott, Ta'Jeon Davis, Michael Ari Brown

have if they don’t inspire future generations of leaders to not be confined by how they have been defined? “I thought it was very impactful and important to know about because it shows you all about history, no matter what race you are. And it shows how the people lived in that time and what they had to go through.” -Synaya Samoeun Keo-Reed, 14 East High School “I was fascinated by all the things Black people have done and been through. The most exciting thing I learned was learning more about Black history and how it applies to me and my everyday life. Learning the struggles that my ancestors had to go through was amazing but heartbreaking.” -Jamaika Elliot, 16, East High School “The trip helped inspire me to be a leader through seeing all the Black firsts and how they achieved milestones for their people – my people. Seeing what it took for them to accomplish their dreams helped to inspire me to carry on their vision through mine.” -Chayah Brown, 17, South High School The Holocaust Museum and NMAAHC brought new and lasting perspectives, and these students came away with fresh insights and inspiration. And this is what must continue to drive us no matter who we are and where we come from. Success often does not come easily, and hardship is often necessary to goal achievement, but if we don’t know what others have done before us, how do we know where we can go. The $500M NMAAHC was made possible in part by generous private donations, from community leaders. Oprah Winfrey and Denver East High alumnus Robert F. Smith were major donor supporters who provided this gift to the country. This is what leaders do, and Youth With a Future Executive

Director Robert Fomer is grateful for the generous large and small contributions of support that made this experience for the students possible. We have been and are businesspeople, entertainers, inventors, athletes, scientists, doctors, educators, engineers, builders, poets, and writers. Young people today are still faced with challenging futures, and continue to look at forging their own path first through education. They visited Howard and Georgetown Universities to see what college is about. At a meeting with a Georgetown representative they gained valuable advice for their preparation for college. “Thinking about most applications for scholarships to undergraduate institutions, whatever choices you make, you will have to write a personal narrative. What is your story? What is that journey? What are the challenges? What is it that you are most proud of? What are things within your family or your own interests that help define who you are? What are your passions? How can you live authentically in your own spirituality, faith, family? It really is about who are you.” -Georgetown University professor

Every one of these students is well into their own story, and like previous generations it’s up to them to determine its chapters. Georgetown has a special tuition program for students who were descendants of the slaves who built the university and the representative noted that other major institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and UVA are also grappling with this issue. Howard University, a longstanding well-known, academic institution for African Americans, speaks volumes for itself. Before this trip, these students may not have considered these institutions outside of Colorado as a possibility. But at Howard, in a brief informal meeting in the hallway, a med center student told a hesitant Jamaika Elliott to “Chase your dreams!” Dreams, after all are stories created in our imaginations. We just need to take the steps to make them a reality. “This trip has made me more inspired to be a leader for all the people and children who need it, and how they all are being mistreated in some way. I want to tell how to deal with those problems and to be motivated to move on. The most exciting thing I learned about was the colleges and how great they are, like the basketball team, all the famous people that went their and how they have lots of history with African Americans.” -Micah Ari Brown, 14, DSISD “The most interesting thing I learned on the trip was college life, as we toured through Georgetown and Howard University. As a high-school senior myself, I was excited to learn more about college life since I’ll be sending college applications very soon. It helped me to realize what was ahead of me within the coming year of this new chapter of my life.” -Chayah Brown, 17, South High School “The Washington DC trip was amazing. Going to Howard made me realize

that a HBCU would be a great choice for me. I never even thought of going to an HBCU and I am really considering it now. The African American museum was an eye-opening and jaw-dropping experience! I’ve learned so much about African American history in my classes but going to a museum projecting more about our history was a great thing for me. I cried, I laughed, I learned! I fell in love with history. My history.” -Jamaika Elliott, 16, East High School We can look forward to the individual histories these students will make for themselves. We will need strong leaders who know their history and its significance. “The trip has inspired me to become a leader in my community because it has thought me that being a leader is more than just doing something for others but leading a way for future leaders.” -Synaya Samoeun Keo-Reed, 14 East High School “The stories I read in the Holocaust Museum had the most impact on me. It was so emotional and powerful to hear the stories from survivors. The way they had to find hope in the midst of the horrors they faced was mind blowing. They went through so much, and had to live with much more. That brings me back to this mentality the world has made up – forgive and forget. That’s not what these survivors did. They never forgot. The pain didn’t shut them down. It woke them up. They continued to live through the pain of the past, but enjoyed their future. It was truly eye opening.” -Chayah Brown, 17, South High School Yes, we must move forward with our eyes open and continue to confront every injustice with all the tools that we have at our disposal. Knowing our history in the development of future leaders is fundamental, and it starts at home. Editor’s note: For more information or to support ongoing activities of Youth With a Future, visit www.ywfleaders.com and follow them on Facebook.

The six students traveled to Washington D.C. for a memorable experience in history exploration. The trip speaks for the value of getting out of your neighborhood and learning about your history and the history of others. There are numerous resources in Colorado. Start with Blair-Caldwell Library as the students did, or the Black American West Museum. Outside of Denver there is Lincoln Hills and the Winks Lodge in Gilpin County or other sites like the Barney Ford Museum in Breckenridge. African Americans are getting out, and there is great value in doing this. Winston Walker, a founder of the James Beckwourth Mountain Club 28 years ago, still takes small groups out into Colorado to historical sites, on walking tours or just to hike. Postings of past activities of the club can be found on the Facebook page ‘Beckwourth Doers.’ Walker calls himself an OG in exploring Colorado, and says that meetup.com groups are the trend to organize these activities, and suggests these: •Beckwourth Doers •Outdoor Afro Colorado •Black Girls Hike •Girl Trek Black Women’s walking group •Aurora Women and Men of Color •Greater Colorado Black Friends Walker says “Our neighborhoods are like fishbowls. There is a huge world out here.” So what is your perspective? Get out there. You never know how a change in perspective can impact a life. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – September 2017


Yoga…It’s Not Just for White Girls S

ummer is over. Halloween is around the corner as well as the holidays and the end of the year, when we might sit down, take stock and evaluate if the year really went the way we wanted. There is never a right time for self-evaluation. It’s a constant process, and the result might lead us to step out of our comfort zone in melding our mental, physical, and spiritual aspirations. Have you tried practicing yoga?

When yoga entrepreneur Shelby Holly-Page started posting images of practicing yoga on her Instagram page, friends from her hometown of Ann Arbor, MI responded ‘Black people don’t do that. That’s a white girl thing.’ “It was just a cultural norm that it is a white girl thing,” recalls Holly-Page. “So I saw that and thought this doesn’t make any sense.” The ambitious 25-year old has been practicing yoga for just less than five years. Yet what she had seen and researched on Google indicated that Black women reviewing yoga classes, the prevalent opinion was ‘That’s for white girls and some went even further in delineating why Black women don’t practice yoga. This topic has even been addressed in national publications like The Atlantic and Forbes. But Holly-Page is resolute in bringing yoga practice to the Black community. There are studios run by African Americans on the west and east coasts, but none are known in Colorado. But Holly-Page believes that there has been a bit of a paradigm shift. She left Ann Arbor to join her older sister and attend the Maharishi School in Fairfield, IA. There she took instruction in transcendental meditation and was introduced

to yoga. As she continued studying she found yoga on YouTube and her practice developed from there. As a young woman now living in Boulder, she has found the positive impacts in her life as a result of practicing yoga. “A lot of the time if I have a lot going on, the greatest benefit to me personally is I just like to get on my mat. It helps me release a lot of stress, a lot of tension,” said HollyPage. “And I think as far as the African American community, we just have so much built up frustration. There are so many complications and health issues. I think the health aspect is going to be a huge factor in a community for people of color, even if they aren’t just African American.” Holly-Page believes that there a numerous issues that practicing yoga could change for African Americans. There are perceived barriers to practicing-cost being one. Resources are often scarce. Yoga mats alone are $20, and drop-in classes are $20 as well. Most, when faced with a choice between groceries and a yoga class we choose to eat. We may be willing to change what we do or what we eat, but the shift is challenging. “I think that just as a whole if they are interested in healthy eating, you know being healthy is a mental thing as well as a physical thing. It’s not just if you exercise, then you are healthy,” said HollyPage. “I think if we can get everyone on that ball or partially interested, you

have to start somewhere, you have to start with baby steps, it will be a huge factor. Who knows…there are a lot of things, high blood pressure, diabetes, that would benefit from the yoga practice – communication skills, the list is kind of endless.” Holly-Page’s consis-

tent, disciplined practice of yoga has brought great opportunities as she forges a career as a yogi and model. She wants to focus on teaching athletes, who surprisingly are strong but often inflexible, and she believes, despite some doubters that the path she is on and the flow she has established is due to her practice. “You know once I got in tune with my yoga and my meditation, I realized it was really easy to manifest a lot of things into my life. During my practice, I would focus on my meditation, I would meditate on them and things just started to flow super easy,” said Holly-Page. “One prime example was ‘I am really going to focus on getting scouted for a modeling contract’. I really want to do that. So during my meditations, I would zone in on that when I was getting into my yoga practice. I felt centered and one with my body, and I would focus on that and within two months of being in Boulder, I was at the farmers market and a girl came up to me and slipped a modeling agency card into my basket. And, I signed for almost a year with an agency, and that was after maybe a month of harping and focusing on that for my life.” Our being is an integration of mentality, physicality and spirituality. In making efforts to improve our lives, we often concentrate on a singular aspect, rather than a holistic approach. It’s important that we be open, and not get in our own way, by focusing on inhibitions that sidetrack our pur-

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2017

By Charles Emmons

pose. Yoga came to the United States in the late 19th century, and grew out of communities of color in Asia. It seems in the late 20th century it became primarily equated with exercise. Often we take the easier

aspects of something and ignore the deep dive that takes more effort. “If you aren’t practicing everything, you are just bending and twisting and doing some things that look cool, is what I have said to people. They say ‘You are the best yogi’, and I am good, but I still have my mental practice and everything that I am doing. So it’s a package,” said Holly-Page Physical exercise and postures or asnas, is just one of the eight different “limbs” in yoga practice. Others focus on our actions, behaviors, breathing, and mental states. Yoga is all about getting in touch with ourselves, and using our renewed self-knowledge to constantly and consistently better ourselves. It is a long path of improvement. And it is up to each individual to make the effort and take the steps to develop the practice. Today, it could not be easier with the rich content found on the internet. If you are really interested, do the research, read books, Google yoga topics, view YouTube videos for asnas and direction. Change requires baby steps, but you get nowhere if you don’t take the first steps. Do it, and don’t be concerned how you look or what other people think of you. Holly-Page says Hatha yoga is an easy starting point. “Just like anything, you don’t want to try this because it makes you look different or standout or be noticeable. Just do your own thing. I think we are so worried about other people and other people’s opin-


ion of what we are doing and how we look,” said Holly-Page. “Let go of all those expectations of what you are supposed to look like and how you should look like to other people. Just do whatever feels right for you, and you will find that over time you are going to get better and better and get over this idea of how am I looking in class. Are people looking at me and laughing? This blocks that flow and easiness when practicing.” Practicing yoga is not going to the gym. Each asna has a specific purpose. Some poses help with lower back pain, some with digestion, some detox the organs and some will help you sleep. “Every posture and every pose has significance and meaning,” said Holly-Page. “There are yoga restorative poses. You just lay there and you do nothing and you restore the body. Every single one has a benefit to it.” When Holly-Page moved to Boulder she was ready for a life change. On a visit she was taken with the mountains and the scenery, and within a month had moved to Colorado. She says the question she is asked most often by both women and men is “How do I get started?” The first thing to do is get a mat, and then do the research. “A lot of people don’t know what to do once they get started, and you

wonder when you are alone by yourself, ‘What in the world do I do?’ That’s how I was. And then I got on YouTube. Granted I didn’t have a teacher to actually make physical corrections to my body in certain poses. But when you get a good enough

YouTube Channel, which I hope to start soon, the teacher should be able to give you verbal corrections, cues and adjustments, which should help you get yourself into proper positioning. You don’t particularly need anyone. After a while it’s good to go to a class, so that is when you can get a private lesson. Just start somewhere. In order to start anything you have to start somewhere, and most people don’t want to start at the bottom of anything. But that is what it takes sometimes.” The information and the technology is out there, it just needs to be leveraged. Colorado is known for having one of the most highly educated populations, but African Americans aren’t necessarily experiencing the implied benefits. We are also known for having a healthy population. We don’t create another ‘Colorado paradox’. As you look forward to making life changes, keep your mind open to maximizing your whole being. “I don’t think that there is really anything stopping us (African Americans), except taking the initiative to get up and try it and go do it. So the biggest setback would probably be our mindset and not being open to the possibilities of practicing,” said Holly-Page.

Editor’s note: Start a conversation and learn more about Shelby Holly-Page and her yoga practice on Instagram, @chocolate_yoga. clude ahimsa (non-violence or non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharya (sexual restraint), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness).

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Practice 1.The Yamas are rules of moral code and include ahimsa (non-violence or non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharya (sexual restraint), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). 2. The Niyamas are rules of personal behavior including saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (discipline or austerity), svadhyaya (spiritual studies), and Ishvara Pranidhana (constant devotion to God). 3. Asana refers to yoga postures but in Patanjali’s initial practice, it referred to mastering the body to sit still for meditation. The practice of yoga asanas came about eight centuries later, which helped disciples ready their bodies for meditation. 4. Pranayama are yoga breathing techniques designed to control prana or vital life force. 5. Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses. 6. Dharana refers to concentration. 7. Dhyana is the practice of meditation. 8. Samadhi is merging with the divine. (From the Chopra Center, www.chopra.com)

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CCGAA To Host Genocide Slavery Conference By Charles Emmons

G

enocide and its cousin slavery are two of the most heinous words and practices in the modern world. Most recently genocide has occurred in Burma, and we have earlier examples in Armenia, Darfur, Rwanda, and Bosnia. In the 21st century, after so much history, why are we still talking about eliminating these from our world? After the Holocaust, in which over 6 million Jewish people were executed, the cry against genocide has been “Never Again!” A group in Colorado is intent on keeping this conversation viable and vibrant and they are inviting the participation of all our communities. The Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action (CCGAA, soon to be known as the Coalition Against Global Genocide) will hold a conference Genocide and Slavery: Social Death for Economic Gain, on Nov. 14 at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Co-sponsors as of this date for this conference are comprised of academics and community members from Metropolitan State University of Denever’s Office of International Studies and Africana Studies; University of Denver Committee on

Human Rights Education (COHRE); Denver African Community Center; Colorado Black Roundtable; City and County of Denver Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships; Jewish Colorado and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. In a posting on their Facebook page just over a year ago, CCGAA stated: “When we say that we will never forget, we will never make the same mistakes that been made before, that we will protect those who should not have to cry out for safety we should look at our actions today. To know history’s mistakes is nothing if we replicate them. We know better. Turning away refugees out of fear is wrong. #holocaustremembrance - 1/27/17” This was in reaction to the rhetoric, policies and actions of the current administration. We would all agree that the degradation and exploitation of other human beings is wrong. This goes across cultures, yet we still see instances of genocide and slavery today. This broad moral agreement has largely been on paper, and often there is little remorse, regret, let alone enforcement against it. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized this. It’s unfortunately in America’s DNA. “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are per-

impacting living, survival, and mobility. Most of haps the only nation which tried as a matter of America looked the other way, yet this act of national policy to wipe out its indigenous populaindicting America, brought the mistreatment of tion. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed even today we have African Americans to the attention of the rest of the world. not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel America was not the bastion of freedom and remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, democracy, because all of its citizens did not enjoy our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - 2/22/17 post CCGAA equal rights. But the CRC had roots in something Clearly the United States was built at the perceived as more dangerous to America than expense of Native Americans and on the backs of Black Americans, communism. CRC disbanded in Black Americans forcibly brought here as slaves. 1956 during the McCarthy era. Not much happened Not something to glorify, it has been given unspo- as a result of the charge of genocide brought to ken approval even by those we might consider the U.N., other than the exposure. The mantle of progressive, moderate and even heroic. As progress civil rights was taken up by moderate organizations was made, communities like Rosewood were burnt like the NAACP. to the ground by white mobs. It happened. What The vestiges of slavery have impacted our hiscan be done about it? torical memory, and the conference CCGAA proposes Genocide received a formal definition in the will examine these intersections of slavery and United Nations in 1948 as a response to the genocide. Major issues it will bring into the conHolocaust. versation are: Genocide 1. What are the Experiences of “Social Death” in Slavery and Genocide? How do genocide and …Any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part a Slavery rob their victims of full membership in national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: society? How does stripping victims of names, cula). Killing members of the group; tural traditions, and other forms of identity allow b). Causing serious bodily or mental harm to crimes against humanity? 2. What Economic Incentives Link Genocide and members of the group; Slavery? Genocide and Slavery may be seen as sepc). Deliberately inflicting on the group condiarate phenomenon, yet common to both is that tions of life calculated to bring about physical the exclusion of one population from society will destruction in whole or in part; benefit another. What are the theoretical assumpd). Imposing measures intended to prevent tions, and legal or economic practices used to jusbirths within the group; e). Forcibly transferring the children of the tify these profitable exclusions? group to another group; 3. Slavery, Genocide, and the Issue of (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Reparations. The question of reparations is conthe Crime of Genocide, Article 2, 1948) tentious, but in light of the above, we ask: Must Generally, when we think about or discuss reparations be only in the form of financial comgenocide the first point is only considered. This pensation for illicit economic gains, or might repabroad definition developed after the war has rations include social and emotional responses to importance in our history, but it has been easily restore the injuries associated with social death? glossed over and forgotten because of the compliThe pervasive ‘otherism’ that is historically the cated intersection of these acts and politics. Our spark for genocide has been normalized through issues seem to be addressed only when it is politithe current president’s rhetoric and tweets, the cally expedient. We have had several Civil Rights events of Charlottesville, and the tacit acceptance Acts and Amendments to the Constitution but for of praises and cheerleading by people like David decades these lacked enforcement, because even Duke. The social death of African Americans through those government officials we might have considwidespread poverty, mass incarcerations, and the ered allies, were wary of losing the support of the denial of voting and civil rights has the same powerful southern Democrat contingent for other effect of killing us off, because our full participainitiatives. tion and mobility for generations has been Yet this didn’t deter William L. Patterson of the deterred or impeded. If we are to keep moving Civil Rights Congress (CRC) from bringing the forward, we must have these conversations and discharge of genocide against the United States federpel this notion in the marketplace of ideas that al government on the behalf of Black Americans to this practice is either right or tolerable. Join the the United Nations in 1951. The evidence was the conversation. over 150 murders and lynching that occurred Editor’s note: For more information and/or to partithroughout the nation from 1945-51 in the era of cipate in the conference, email CCGAA Executive Jim Crow, the psychological mental harm that the Director Roz Duman at rozduman@aol.com, call Ku Klux Klan imposed on Black Americans, and a 303-856-7334 or follow CCGAA on Facebook. delineation of the rampant discriminatory practices 8 Stages of Genocide

1. Classification 2. Symbolization 3. Dehumanization 4. Organization 5. Polarization 6. Preparation 7.Extermination 8. Denial Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2018


Digital Mentoring, Another App For Your Smartphone By Charles Emmons

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ummer is on the horizon and with it comes summer vacations with young people involved in numerous activities, from family reunions to summer employment. Or perhaps it will be spent on idle time, which most think can be bad, but alternatively it can be good. Summertime is a great time to reflect and recharge. Why not use idle time at home or riding in the car or train to learn something and begin making changes in your life? This is in part the idea behind the Youth With a Future App (YWAF), developed in conjunction with app developer Subsplash. Apps on our smartphones are of course not new. But isn’t it time we ask ourselves whether all the time spent on these apps is beneficial. Ironically a number of us seem to be disconnected. During my last trip to

the barbershop, all eight young men waiting in the chairs had eyes trained on their phones. Last weekend when my wife and I dropped in for breakfast at a Village Inn we observed an intimate table of four, a mix of men and women, all with their heads in their phones, seemingly not involved in any conversation. Youth with a Future Executive Director Dr. Robert Fomer sees an opportunity to leverage the pervasive nature of smartphone use, and has developed an app to teach leadership skills based on the successful summer program. Fomer is broadening the reach of Youth With a Future, which he has been facilitating for urban youth for several years. His eye is on the next generation and its development, and the app is available for free in the Apple Store and on Google Play. Initially, users are introduced to Youth With a Future and its spiritual foundations in the eight Core Values previously discussed in the Spectrum. But there are also sections challenging and encouraging further exploration like, 1) leadership and character development, 2) social issues and 3) remembering known and less well-known historical figures, like Carter G. Woodson, Maggie Lena Walker and Louis David Armstrong. This generation, following Millennials, born between 1995 and 2017 and designated as ‘Generation Z’, will be better prepared to handle the issues of the day in their lives if they know about those who have gone before them, in the distant past as well as today. Fomer’s aim is to pique their interest and encourage them to position themselves to face the issues of the day, namely 1) violence, 2) discrimination, 3) education, 4) bullying, 5) clean drinking water, 6) immigration, 7) healthcare, 8) trafficking, 9) incarceration, and 10) substance abuse. Fomer challenges the young users of the app to become transformational leaders. “Transformational leaders are those young men and women who see the issues of the day and seek to make a difference. Are you seeking to make a difference? Look at the issues facing our world today,” Fomer said. Now more than ever it is possible

to engage with the world, broaden the community on these issues, and do something to resolve them. Congressman John Lewis was barely an adult when he began his activism, and he only had a telephone and telegraphs. He had to craft his own playbook to make a difference. The YWAF app is a guide to making a difference, and the tools available for engagement are far beyond the telephone. There is a blog, discussions about finding purpose and a leadership workbook and videos. Research has shown African Americans are avid consumers of media. According to Nielsen, we watch more television than any other group, and our smartphone penetration is over 80 percent and we still listen to the radio and read print magazines. Each month they spend 56 hours a month using apps or mobile internet browsers on their smartphones. This media consumption is perhaps reflective of a thirst for entertainment or better yet knowledge. Nielsen and Pew Research provide these studies so that media and marketers can reach certain demographics. The Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) launched an app three years ago. It makes the publication accessible from everywhere. If the next generation is to be reached, it is prudent to leverage African American media usage for a greater purpose. If we don’t know where we have been we don’t know where we are going. The odds of making a career in athletics or entertainment are probably in the single digits. Our capabilities are much more than that, yet we are a society obsessed with celebrity and its visible trappings, whether that is physical possessions or the latest meme. What matters is what we can contribute to make our lives, our families’ lives and the lives of those in our communities better. Leaders are needed not only in STEM or STEAM fields but also in law and other professions, and the path must start at a young age. But young

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2018

8 Core Values featured in the YWAF App 1. Choice of a Mentor 2. Passion for Purpose and People 3. Visionary Leadership 4. Culturally Relevant Communication 5. Multiplication of Leaders 6. Family as a Priority 7. Good Stewardship 8. Integrity people must know that it is possible for them, and the YWAF app aims to do that by challenging them to explore their purpose and other alternatives. There is a marketplace of ideas out there, and the YWAF app facilitates and allows those better concepts of ourselves to come to fruition. Young people often need assistance in forging their own path. Questionable situations and bad decisions have consequences. Black people in general are searching for answers to their issues, and Pew’s research bears this out. In an analysis of a November 2016 study published in November 2017, 77 percent of Blacks believed an unlimited data plan for their cell phone would help them with important decisions, and 81 percent thought that more reliable home internet service would be helpful. The study further found that some sort of training is highly desirable. Seventy seven percent of African Americans wanted training on using online resources to find trustworthy information and 66 percent believed training to build confidence in using, computers, smartphones, and the internet would be helpful. African Americans are heavy users of social media, and more than 40 percent aged 18 to 39 are on Twitter. The impact of Black Twitter in addressing the death of Michael Brown is wellknown. This builds community, and social media is valuable for more than the latest rant or trolling someone you don’t agree with. Technology use and sharing insights can be constructive as well. The YWAF app aims to stay ahead of this as it is crafted for Generation Z and a new group of young leaders. Generation Z is the first totally digital generation, and it is Fomer’s opinion that for them, smartphones have become an extension of themselves. In a 2017 survey conducted by LivePerson, encompassing 18-34 year olds in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France and Japan, it was found that 65 percent of the 4013 consumers surveyed, interacted with each other more online than in the real world. They preferred texting to calling and conversation. In the US the


Apps for your Smartphone YWAF (Youth With a Future) DUS (Denver Urban Spectrum) B2B Mag (Back to Basics Magazine) Recent Black Achievements Black History Facts percentages were even higher at 73 percent. “Technology is transforming the life of Generation Z but at the same time it is deteriorating the real life interactions. Smartphones were meant to be consumed by the younger generation but unfortunately, in a way, they are consuming the younger generation,” said Fomer. With the YWAF app he is looking to turn this around. “Our vision at TLF/Youth With A Future is driven by the belief that Generation Z can be nurtured and developed into future and potential leaders through goal oriented and customized use of the technology. Something YWAF has labeled as digital mentoring, which also provides opportunities for character and faith development utilizing blogs, social media, and leadership activities.” The Youth With a Future leadership programs have impacted small numbers, usually no more than 20 inner city youth in a summer. This app will reach so many more. A significant characteristic of Generation Z is that they are self-learners through technology like YouTube and Google. They multi-task digitally, but they also don’t let media overwhelm them, and will quickly leave it if it is not of interest. They gain their knowledge of the world and pertinent issues through social media like Facebook and Twitter. The strategy for the app focuses in these areas: •Blending information and entertainment •Incentivize youth •Empowering youth •Career oriented mentoring •Diversified discussion topics •Closing generation gaps Fomer believes that mentorship is a key component of leadership development, but he is aware that this is a generation that wants to find their answers rather than be dictated to. “We believe that a friendly environment can be produced by closing generation gaps. When Generation Z is mentored by Generation Y, Generation Z will feel more comfortable and will be more likely to join and participate actively in the leadership and character development apps. Unlike dictating terms, the opinion of Generation Z should be heard in a friendly environment where the mentor and mentee interact in a knowl-

edgeable productive and friendly environment,” said Fomer. Mentorship can occur through many mediums, particularly online and through technology. Messages are everywhere, and media and film is not just for entertainment. Lately there is excitement about the success of Black Panther, and Fomer has long seen the value in films such as the Queen of Katwe and Hidden Figures in facilitating discussions about leadership. The intent behind the YWAF app is to spark these discussions online to begin developing knowledge and empathy and other soft skills of leadership so that Generation Z can feel more comfortable in offline discussions with mentors in finding purpose and direction for their energies. This next generation has tremendous potential. It is the most ethnically diverse, and characteristically believes in gender and racial equality. New tools are needed to support gaining self-knowledge and preparation for the future. Info graphics and videos are the new language of this generation. These are carefully curated throughout the app. They will also have a chance to see themselves in the app through the publication of successes within their peer group. “Today’s youth does not want to be a part of any unyielding activity. They should be provided with the news about the success of individuals who have been schooled and nurtured through the leadership Apps. When youth comes to know about the success of individuals who actively participated in the leadership apps, they will follow their footsteps and will join and actively participate in Youth Leadership Apps,” said Fomer. Time is free, but of the essence. How will the young person near and dear to you spend their summer vacation? For a new look at what is possible, download the Youth With a Future App, available in the Apple Store and Google Play, and follow them on Facebook for future events involving youth and technology. .

Oops! In our March 2018 issue, Denver Urban Spectrum incorrectly published that Bertram Alfred Bruton was Colorado’s First African American architect. That honor is held by John R. Henderson who received his registration from the State of Colorado on October 7, 1959. We apologize for this error and any inconvenience and harm this may have caused. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – April 2018


A Spectrum of Mixed Feelings Brings Controversy To Denver Community By Charles Emmons

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he political season is upon us. Mid-term elections are often viewed as not that critical, so voter turnout is small compared to presidential elections. But even though Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s possible re-election to a third term is months away, there is cause for concern. In the last few months, he has weathered a storm that started with a February television interview on Channel 7 facilitated by investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski. He and other investigative reporters in the metro area received an anonymous letter detailing incidents of alleged sexual harassment by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock against a detective, Leslie Branch-Wise who had been on his security detail in 2011 and 2012. The story broke on Feb. 28 and three days later Mayor Hancock initiated an “apology tour.” It seems as if Kovaleski is the only reporter able to coax Branch-Wise in for an interview about the incidents. Detective Branch-Wise did not grant interviews to anyone else but Kovaleski, thus declining an interview with Denver Urban Spectrum. Perhaps the letter was sent as a result of the #MeToo movement sweeping the country, a movement started by a Black woman, Tarana Burke. Or perhaps it is something else. Hancock has his critics and detractors. Not everyone is satisfied with the mayor and his record, which is generally viewed positively. But, maybe it was a combination. Mayor Hancock has admitted that the text messages sent to Detective Branch-Wise, which came out in the Kovaleski interview, were inappropriate and unprofessional, but does not concur that they reach the level of harassment, which is generally determined in court or through an investigation. “Not everything is a fire-able offense,” Hancock told the Denver Women’s Commission on March 1. In elaborating on this point he told the

Spectrum, “You know when these sort of things come up, you have to step back and try to understand what occurred and make decisions based upon the information that you have in front of you, and the facts that you have in front of you. As we see these sorts of things happening around the country, and certainly here in Colorado, I think it’s important that we always make decisions based on facts. Because regardless of how these things come about, there is a human toll to all of this, and we must make sure that any decisions that we make are defensible and are rendered based on fact.” Laws in this area are often complicated, widely interpreted, and murky, especially in the public sphere as they relate to elected officials. You might even say they are flawed, because they were originally designed for the workplace in the private sector. Harassment is viewed as discrimination, and gender or sex has been assessed the same as any other protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964). Protection and confidentiality of both the victim and the offender, as well as liability of the organization or employer, have been a critical precedent. It is apparent that we are at a crossroads with this issue as more and more women and men are coming forward with their stories in the private sector, as well as the nation’s capital, state houses, and city halls across the country. There have been numerous resignations, like U.S. Representative John Conyers and U.S Senator Al Franken, and in Colorado, Representative Steve Lebsock was expelled from office by his legislative peers. On April 11, 9 News held the first televised debate, Decision 2018: Race for governor. When asked by a show of hands, if they believed there should be serious consequences for Mayor Michael Hancock for sexual harassment, all three candidates Mike Johnston, Cary Kennedy and Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynn displayed their opinion by not raising their hands. As we hear these stories, there is a tendency to lump everyone together as equal offenders, under the label of sexual misconduct. There are degrees of offense that must be reckoned with each individual case, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recognized this. One person’s perception of harassment through innuendo is another’s view of innocent banter. Definition of harassment Sexual harassment laws fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment

discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, and other protected classes. Title VII applies to businesses with 15 or more employees, as well as federal, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions. “Unwelcome sexual advances requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” –Facts about Sexual Harassment U.S. EEOC

“When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination is from the facts on a case-by case basis.” –Facts about Sexual Harassment U.S. EEOC

The EEOC is one investigative body. Most organizations also have an internal mechanism, usually through HR departments for both investigating and preventing incidents of harassment. Local and state governments frequently look to the federal level for precedent and guidance in developing laws and policy. Denver city government’s harassment policies are codified in the Career Service Authority Rule Book. Rule 16-22 Harassment and Discrimination (Revised September 21, 2017; Rule Revision Memo 28D states, A. Career Service employees have a right to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment because of the employee’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, genetic information, military status, age, marital status, political affiliation, or any other status protected under federal, state, and/or local law. B. Types of Harassment: Harassment because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, genetic information, military status, age, marital status, political affiliation, or any other status protected under federal, state, and/or local law, includes but is not limited to: 1. Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory comments, slurs, unwanted sexual advances, invitations, or comments; 2. Visual conduct such as derogatory posters, photographs, cartoons, drawings, or gestures; 3. Physical conduct such as assault,

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2018

unwanted touching, blocking normal movement, or interfering with work directed at an employee because of the employee’s sex, race, or other protected basis; and 4. Threats or demands to submit to sexual requests in order to keep a job or avoid some other loss, and offers of job benefits in return for sexual favors. The expectation is that our elected officials will conduct themselves professionally, but it seems we are in a different era. Nationally, we have a president accused of sexual harassment and assault, which is recorded as admitting to the act. There is a cruel irony that this same president, declared April as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But Mayor Michael Hancock isn’t Donald Trump. Hancock has admitted to sending the text messages of questionable content, and has apologized to Detective Branch-Wise. Most cited text messages referred to Branch-Wise as being called sexy, and asked whether she had ever taken a pole-dancing class. She has accepted his apology, but according to reporting by Kovaleski, is somewhat disappointed that city council has not moved for an investigation into Hancock’s conduct. Because there are no disputed facts, the city council has declined to move forward with further investigation. Denver City Council Statement In an April 2 statement, after extensive deliberation and executive sessions, Denver City Council President Albus Brooks said, “Since we are not the judicial branch, we are unable to make a legal conclusion about the mayor’s conduct and there are no disputed facts.” He continued, “In 2013 Detective BranchWise waived any opportunity to pursue the legal process where these types of legal conclusions are typically made. Council is deeply concerned that there is not a process to make a complaint against a Denver elected official for sexual harassment.” Detective Branch-Wise is a police officer, a position that one would normally associate with strong mindedness and confidence, but yet she felt vulnerable. “It made me physically sick and it was scary,” said Branch-Wise in the interview with Kovaleski. “It’s painful…takes me back to that day and those days. I can't be silenced by the city anymore.” –Detective Leslie Branch-Wise

It is instructive to hear from experts treating victims of gendered abuse, because of the commonality of these


feelings in the workplace. “They feel vulnerable, maybe a little bit of control about something they don't know quite how to address. Maybe some self-blame, sometimes fear is involved depending on who the person is and what form the harassment has taken. It can be all over the map,” said Executive Director Cathy Phelps of The Center for Trauma and Resilience. Hancock has repeatedly insisted in on-camera interviews that he has nothing to hide and that he has been open and transparent about what happened as he remembers six years ago. He says that he blurred the lines between being a friend and a boss. As a result of a sexual harassment complaint against one of Hancock’s aides, who was subsequently fired, BranchWise received a $75,000 settlement from the city in 2013 and agreed not to bring complaints against anyone else in the city. It is difficult to remedy complaints of sexual harassment in the courts, so they are often resolved in the court of public opinion, especially for elected officials. Silence, mediation and settlement are often the solution. Nationally, millions of dollars have been paid out for the thousands of complaints received by the EEOC annually. In the private sector there is an effort to remove the offender from the victim, and the whole process is bent on the liability of the organization or employer. With elected officials, especially those at the top, the question arises what is the recourse for the victim? Who do you tell? What we have seen most often recently is resignation, but this may not always be appropriate depending upon the course and degree of the alleged offense. “I am not doing this because I want him to resign. He shouldn't make someone who has no power afraid.” –Detective Branch-Wise

Unfortunately, Branch-Wise is not providing additional interviews but DUS would ask her, what is it she wants now for the Mayor? It often takes time before victims of harassment are comfortable coming forward. But then what is the remedy? There is an emotional toll. Apologies help, but they may never erase the pain. “It's the political thing to do. It's the right thing to do,” said Phelps. “The behavior has long lasting deep ramifications for many women survivors, and because we don't know what their previous retrospective history has been, has this happened to

them before, has there been another trauma that they've had to deal with, have they been isolated before around this kind of thing? It can trigger an avalanche of feelings so I'm not sure if you're asking me if the apology makes this all go away. It doesn't. That's not feasible that's not real.” In an emotional on-camera conversation with Kovaleski, Hancock said, “I wish she had shared with me how much it hurt her at the time. That is not the character of the man I am. It’s time for me to lean in and accept responsibility and give everything I have to this city.” Since the interview with Kovaleski, the Denver mayor has tried to get out in front of this scandal. He has his critics and supporters, some critics have conflated Hancock’s past alleged missteps in this area and other areas of governing and policy with the current one and are attempting to make political hay and set the barn on fire. Supporters have stood up for Hancock and seem receptive to his apology and taking responsibility within the parameters of city government and the Denver City Charter. The community conversation is lively in venues like Let’s Talk, a live talk forum, where Brother Jeff and former KDVRTV reporter Jon Bowman discuss issue and the players. In a March Facebook session, Bowman commented that Branch-Wise failed to file a harassment complaint both when she first became a detective and when she was subsequently moved to the executive security detail. The aide who allegedly harassed Branch-Wise was fired, and sued the city. It appears that Hancock sought the correct legal remedy, but in Branch-Wise’s view this wasn’t enough. Both she and the alleged harasser subsequently received settlements. Bowman also commented that it’s important not to merge the issues in evaluating Mayor Hancock referencing to a recent article in the Cherry Creek Glendale neighborhood paper which brought up the brothel Hancock allegedly frequented in his second term, attempting to connect the dots to this current issue and paint the mayor as someone no longer worthy of the public’s trust. But there are others in his corner. “When an elected official shows bad judgment and makes a bad decision, yet steps forward to take ownership for said mistake – that is still leadership. We do not agree with or endorse what the Mayor Continued on page 10 Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2018


A Spectrum of Mixed Feelings Continued from page 9 did or said, but we can appreciate the fact that he didn't run, hide or lie.” –John Bailey in an email message from the Colorado Black Roundtable

Technology has been both an affliction and a boon. Text messages brought this all on, yet Mayor Hancock has received support through email blasts into the community, and has been able to address the issue through the Internet and social media. “He has been very transparent about his actions, apologized to his family and the people of the City and County of Denver. I don't condone Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s behavior. However, I do accept his apology as a Black woman and community advocate. I support him staying as Denver Mayor to finish his vision of making Denver a great city.” –Maya Wheeler, Chair, African American Initiative of the Colorado Democrats, in a letter to the community.

Denver is a great city, and came into its own because of visionary leaders in the past 30 years. Three of its mayors during this time have been either African-American or Hispanic. They were responsible for closing and moving a major international airport, the re-development of federal lands with the closing of a U.S. Armed Forces facilities (Lowry AFB) and the development of the Denver Tech Center. Denver’s development continues in the Hancock administration. Pena, Webb and Hancock were perhaps not expected to succeed, and were all under scrutiny as they lead a city with low percentages of minority constituent populations. Minority populations in Denver still continue to struggle, sometimes marginalized by law enforcement, and communities are frequently challenged to have their voices heard by senior leadership positions. We have a capable African American City Council President in Albus Brooks and across the city green in the statehouse eight African American leaders combine to represent us in both the House and the Senate. Opportunities are cherished in this environment. Yet when events don't happen, or decisions are contrary to perceptions or expected outcomes, opposition groups coalesce, and there is some-

times a piling on effect. One of Mayor Hancock’s most vocal critics, Lisa Calderon, who has sometimes allied with the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), organized a rally on the City Hall steps calling for the mayor to resign under the hashtag #TimesUp Hancock. Calderon, Cochair of the Colorado Latino Forum Denver, has advocated for greater diversity within upper levels of Denver Law Enforcement agencies. Currently the Denver Sheriff Dept. is 48 percent white, 29 percent Hispanic, and 17 percent African American. Of the eight chiefs in the department, two are Hispanic, and none are African American. Throughout Hancock’s tenure, the Denver Sherriff Department and the Denver Police Department has had its leadership challenges. As of this writing, Denver Police Chief Robert White just announced his future retirement after serving the city six years. Calderon has advocated for a May 2019 ballot initiative for an election of the Denver Sheriff. She believes an elected Sheriff would be more accountable to communities. Denver is one of two Colorado counties where the Sheriff is appointed. The police union has been critical of leadership. Despite reforms implemented by Hancock, the Denver Sheriff Department still has issues with overcrowding and resultant increased violence, excessive overtime, understaffing and attrition. In an extensive letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, listing grievances, and systemic problems with Denver leaders impacting public safety, which included the harassment of Detective Branch-Wise, FOP called for Hancock’s resignation. The union has suggested in statements on YouTube that they have to use any tactic available to get the administration’s attention. In the letter they urged Hickenlooper to call upon the Attorney General to open an investigation. Hickenlooper has not acted on the request, stating “As we get into issues around the workplace, and people’s rights to work in a place without being intimidated or somehow undergoing behavior that is really inappropriate, our laws probably aren’t sufficient to what people – the public – really expects now. And I think that’s one of the issues that is going to come up…its already coming up in certain ways in the state legislature.” Calderon has also been somewhat embedded in the Denver Sheriff Department. Since 2007, she has been the executive director of the Community Re-entry Project (CRP),

which is modeled on the Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) program for inmates going back into the community. Denver was one of six learning sites in the first phase of TJC Initiative. “The premise of TJC is that re-entry starts before release,” says Calderon, who was one of the first national leaders of the TJC model, and initiated it in Denver. She was trained by the National Institute of Corrections and the Urban Institute on re-entry best practices. The state inmate population is increasingly female, nearing 10 percent, the highest level in nine years and is expected to grow 50 percent as reported in Colorado Politics by independent journalist Gabrielle Bryant. The $500K CRP contract stopped in December 2017, and was not renewed for 2018. In April, Calderon filed a first amendment lawsuit in federal court against Hancock and the city, claiming that Hancock retaliated against her because of her prior criticism of him in June 2017 and Denver Sheriff Firman’s lack of diversity at the executive levels, and the demotion of Chief Gary Wilson, the first African American Denver Sheriff. She also claims the contract was given to a coalition of organizations, two of which have been under investigation for sexual harassment and hostile environments, Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and La Raza Services. She says they alerted the administration and CPCC of this in October and also the Crime Prevention Control Commission, raising the issue that it's inappropriate to place women in harm's way of these men.” Finally the lawsuit claims that the contract was denied because she was the only woman applying. Mayor Hancock cannot speak to the lawsuit, but has said that the contract award was made through the competitive bid process. Calderon has held this contract since 2007, and it was last competitively bid in 2011. According to the city, the notice of intent to re-bid the contract was sent to Calderon in 2016, and Denver Human Services Communications Director Julie Smith provided DUS a timeline in refuting her claims beginning in 2016, outlining steps and procedures, up to Feb. 12, 2018. Executive Order 8 (XO 8) requires that city contracts be competitive and that any exceeding $500,000 be constantly monitored and goes out to bid every 3-5 years. Calderon has claimed that the most recent contract award was a sham, verging on collusion between Hancock and staffers in the Denver Sheriff’s Department. The council committee meeting to vote on the resolution to send the contract to

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2018

the larger city council was on March 7. It passed 5-2. That same day the #TimesUp Hancock rally was held on the steps of city hall. It was attended by some of Mayor Hancock’s most vocal critics. The city has viewed this as politicizing the competitive bid process. “We need a mayor who understands that texting a subordinate about pole dancing is never appropriate conduct,” Calderon told the assembled group of 60 at the rally. After 12 years as a legal director for victims of domestic violence, Calderon’s commitment is unshakeable. She seeks accountability, and thinks non action or investigation sends the wrong message, but stresses that this issue of harassment is bigger in the community. We can't continue to deny that harassment continues on in what we might consider our safe spaces and institutions, our government, our schools and even our churches and the conversations must continue. “We’ve dealt with it and dealt with it and dealt with it and ignored it and navigated around the minefield of it, repressed it we've laughed it off, we’ve cried it off, said Cathy Phelps. “We've not really had a forum to say this is not, okay let's change the culture. That's what this whole #MeToo movement is bringing to light.” The #MeToo movement has brought many things to light, including the opportunity for other issues to come into existence which could be good or bad, depending on the outcomes. With so many unanswered questions still hovering over these allegations, we also cannot blur the accusations. Nor can we mix apples with oranges. We’ve always heard that what is done in the dark will come to light. It has brought to light the need to continue conversations for future generations. Most importantly, it has been a teachable moment for some. Mayor Michael Hancock says that he has learned from this. “One of the most important things for me is I thought about what the accusations were, and we had a chance to face the issue. And I was quite sure that I had to issue the apology to the detective. And then secondly do everything we can to get the city moving forward again so that we did not neglect the job that the people asked me to do. And so what I have attempted to do in the aftermath of all this is to be present, be engaged in the community, and be engaged as mayor of the city. And to be forthright and transparent when I am out in public with people and they want to talk about it. It hasn't been all that often that people want to talk about it. My thing is not to bury it, but to talk about it and be honest, and to be straight forward about it and move on as a person and as a city.”.


Volume 34 Number 3 June 2020

Celebrating

Black Music Month

COVID-19 Plays A New Tune for Musicians…4 Juneteenth 2020: A Virtual Freedom…8 UBC: An Antidote for Poverty…9 Scrabbling For Education Solutions…10 Coronavirus & Voter Suppression: A Deadly Combination…12


Resilient Persistent Improvisers…

Musicians in the COVID-19 Pandemic By Charles Emmons

I

t’s a painful time for many of us. We can’t see loved ones graduate, weddings are out, family gatherings and reunions are a distant memory, and dancing in the streets is definitely out. In another time we might head out to our favorite musical haunt and be entertained by our favorite musician with a cool beverage. But those times are gone, and when they will come back is anybody’s guess. Since March, and perhaps even before then, when we began our confrontation with the coronavirus, COVID-19, musical performances from cruise ships to festivals across the country have been cancelled, postponed into next year, or morphed into something somewhat unfamiliar, but quickly becoming the norm, the virtual performance. COVID-19 caught all of us off guard, especially now as we honor and celebrate Black Music Month – the month to recognize the musical accomplishments of African Americans. In a culture driven by immediate gratification where our choices for entertainment have been abundant, we are looking for new outlets and modes to satisfy our need. Our local favorites have been closed because of the COVID-19 orders. Dazzle is closed, as is the Soiled Dove Underground,

the Kasbah, as well as Live at Jack’s a favorite for local performers like Hazel Miller and Wil Alston. In a near tearful announcement posted on Facebook on May 9, the day of the mayor’s re-opening of the city, Live@Jack’s owner Sandra Watts regretfully announced that Live@Jack’s would close. In her remarks she emphasized that they are a live music entertainment venue. With the stay at home mandates and pandemic orders they couldn’t support live music gatherings that were up close and personal that the venue had provided for 23 years. “I really feel like how music is created and presented, may be changed forever because of this pandemic. I was heartbroken to hear of the closing of my go-to performance spot Live@Jack’s. And unfortunately, I don’t think they will be the only venue lost in the battle.” –Wil Alston

Shelton Bouknight, owner of the Aurora’s long standing Kasbah shared his views on the closing of his club ownership of more than two decades.

“Unfortunately no one knows what the other side of the entertainment business is going to look like after this. What is for sure is that it will not look anything like what we use to know. Social distancing is here to stay. Even if you open, how do you regulate? Take every person’s temperature? Eliminate one half of your occupancy. I believe the old club and dance era are no more. The key will be to innovate and be a part of whatever the new social interaction will look like and be about it,” he said. “And as far as our restaurant arm Uncle Bo’s, there is not enough revenue in take out and pick up to cover the overhead to operate the business. How can you compete with the drive-thru and Grub Hubs of the world whose business models have been into play for years? Without a vaccine, most businesses are simply wishing on a star.  “I am not a pessimist and there will be a rebirth in the food and beverage industry, I just don’t know what it will look like. For me, after 23 years – it’s retirement time. I have a wonderful wife and some beautiful kids and grandkids. So, on the brighter side, I’m going to be alright.” Adjustments and cancellations for Alston and other musicians have been hard to take. The weekend of May 16, the Five Points Jazz Festival was virtual. Alston performed at the 2019 festival, when nearly 100K attended, but this year organizers and online hosts (Tamara Banks, Amerykah Jones, Carlos Lando and Arturo Gomez) hosted virtual performers Ron

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2020

Miles, The 5 Pointers, Ritmo Jazz Latino, JoFoke, the Ben Markley Big Band and the CCJA Jazz Arts Messengers, as well as stalwarts Hazel Miller and Dianne Reeves. In a message to the community Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that the festival always tried to provide “accessible and inclusive art.” Five Points being the Harlem of the West has a deep musical heritage, and during these times it is instructive to tap into it. The virtual festival also included remarks from one of Denver’s elders, Cleo Parker Robinson. The Five Points Jazz festival marked 20 years this year and Parker Robinson’s dance company will celebrate 50 years. These are true milestones in some trying times, yet Cleo retains optimism. “We come together through the magic of music,” she said. “We have to be jazz people … return to that essence, and be better improvisers.” Music connects us, and this was evident when Hazel Miller performed “Quarantine Blues” and “COVID Blues” as well as “He’s Got The Whole World… In His Hands.” She commented that because of the times there is pressure to create new work – but at the same time, provided a healing message. Others in the community are improvising as well. The Purnell Steen Quintet performed in a studio at Classic Pianos; first streamed May 21 on YouTube. Billed as a reunion concert, Steen and his band


played classics like “Satin Doll” and “Take the A Train.” “We just wanted to turn some frowns into smiles,” Steen said to his virtual audience. “We miss you and love you.” There is nothing like live performance, which serves as solace and escapism all at the same time. As I viewed Steen’s performance on my Android device it wasn’t hard to drift off in the music. You have to make a decision to just listen, or listen and watch. There is an energy to a drum solo and an energy in improvisation rooted in the music. In informally surveying musicians that have graced the Denver scene, it was heartening to learn that they are still energized and ready to improvise. Here are some of their comments, to the following questions, on the impact of the pandemic. What impact has COVID-19 had on your bookings and income; your growth and maturation as a musician? If you have been performing virtually, how has that been different without the interaction of the audience? How do you find solace in your music at this time since its other rewards ... money, fame and career are somewhat fleeting?

like the wind has been taken out my/our sail! Mind you, I do understand the severity of this Pandemic but there’s still the question of how and why? It’s that feeling that the live entertainment and artistic culture has been “thrown under the bus!” Had I not been in a position that softened the blow financially and taken advantage of every available resource this could have ruined me in that respect. I am a fulltime and life-

time musician/artist...this is and was my livelihood. Like many of my peers, this has brought a lot of ponderance, reflection and discernment about life and how easily it can be squashed in one swoop. It has impressed on me the value of better future planning economically. I have never taken what God has blessed me to do for granted without gratitude expressed in prayer for my gifts and endurance in this

The COVID19 (I hate even speaking it or writing the name) has impacted me personally that all my gigs to date have been canceled or postponed/rescheduled into 2021. I feel we’re no closer to knowing when private parties, bars and clubs will be allowed to reopen as well as not knowing who will show up inside of a month. My outside gigs or events for the most part have been put on hold until there is some clarity as restrictions and so forth. As far as income goes I’ve gone from 60 to 0 in a very abrupt period of time and feels Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2020

trade every single day. My love for my fellow brothers and sisters in this business, including those venues that I have been allowed to grace their stage, has deepened and saddened me. I have been doing some virtual performing privately, shortly after the shutdown and it gives me some relative satisfaction and what I need as an artist. But it in no way close Continued on page 6


Musicians...Continued from page 5 replaces a live electrified audience. I have not come to terms in my soul and spirit to date to perform live, if the entertainment opened this weekend. This pandemic has personally dampened that for how long – I don’t know. I’ve spoken with others and there’s a sense of despair and still disbelief in their spirit and soul as well. One of my band mates has already decided not to perform live again until 2021 maybe! Who knows what other artist are feeling at this moment, and mind you not out of fear, but because of the dampened spirit it has brought. I find much solace when I am practicing, singing and playing alone songs I don’t or haven’t performed with the full band and tearing up on occasion because of the impact the songs have in my soul and spirit. One day I was driving on a warm sunny day heading west and could see the moun-

tain peaks and God’s glory...and then this. I’m quickly reminded by the mask of the driver next to me is wearing and I feel sick to my stomach. It’s then, I’m again reminded how fleeting fame and money can be. I avoid the news and media as much as possible as I always have, and more so these days. There is never a full day without bad news and this disease plastered in every uttered sentence, word and discussion. I stay in close contact with my family and positive thinking friends. I sing and perform whenever my heart gets too heavy and immerse myself with eyes closed in the vision of stage performing and my bands tearing it up. I have always been a solitary person and I would socialize at my leisure so on one hand I deal with this pretty well. Other days I get angry feeling confined when I need to get out. I’ve learned very well to live in the moment

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so I amuse, treat, love and give of myself the best to others and again myself. My improvisation in all this is I make me happy in whatever wholesome and positive way that gets the job done and me to the next hour as I remind myself, “this is not my war” and don’t give up your daydream!” Ron Ivory www.ronivory.com Though I make it a policy to not put all of my eggs in one basket, COVID-19 has definitely affected both my bookings and my income. And, hence, it has affected my touring band’s income as well. It has not affected my growth as a musician. I feel that one can grow in various ways besides performing in a live setting. Being home has allowed me to write new songs, challenged my ability to think out of the box, and practice my instruments. So there have been some benefits. Performing virtually is very different. The outcome of my live shows heavily depends on the energy of my audiences. Without that energy, I have to “mentally pretend” that they are there. However, I have enjoyed doing virtual concerts, and seeing the strong viewership online. It keeps me in touch with my supporters, and they appreciate the music and the effort. The pandemic has pushed me to improvise in a variety of ways. I have become more advanced in the technological and streaming aspect of the Internet. I had to make improvements to my home studio to accommodate being able to effectively perform virtual shows from home. So that has been a plus. Always learning! Gerald Albright www.geraldalbright.com

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2020

Fortunately, I hadn’t yet scheduled out my performance goals for the year yet, so the impact on bookings and income has been mild for me compared to others. But it did cause me to delay the current studio album I was working on and forced me to pivot and put out a smaller digital project (called “The COVID Chronicles”) that speaks to the times we find ourselves in.  I really feel like how music is created and presented may be changed forever because of this pandemic. I was heartbroken to hear of the closing of my go-to performance spot Live@Jack’s.  And unfortunately, I don’t think they will be the only venue to be lost in the battle. However, during this time “at home,” I’ve gotten a lot of song writing done and like many other artists I’ve been exploring new ways to use technology to record and perform. I haven’t done any virtual performances yet, but I have utilized and pushed past recorded performances as content for my website and social media sites, and for virtual stages like the one Dazzle Jazz is providing for artists. I like to work alone when I’m writing and creating as it helps me capture and frame what I see and feel around me. But there is absolutely nothing like the energy you get from sharing songs with an audience and seeing and feeling their reaction to it. Music has always been therapy or sanctuary and not so much about the money or fame.  Although, making a little money from my music would not suck! LOL! One of the ways I’ve had to improvise in this crazy new environment is in how I interact with my recording studio partner. I’m doing more of the


hings at home that I use to do in the studio and so much more of our communication is done via text, email, and video chats. Wil Alston www.wilsgroove.com The impact of COVID-19 has had a devastating loss to my performance calendar.  My year was filled with band gigs and musical theatre performances that have all been canceled and a few postponed to next year.  It’s very discouraging and heartbreaking. This virus hasn’t deterred me by any means.  I miss performing immensely but, I listen to music and sing everyday working on different projects.  My goal is to work, study, and push myself to be better at my gift God has graciously given me. There is nothing like performing in front of a live audience! The lights, sound, applause, pure emotion, laughter, happiness and the joy, I miss it all!! During this pandemic, I have enjoyed performing songs virtually. This experience has allowed me to still be creative while receiving responses from others.  However, I miss the adrenaline rush and showering of love from audiences and the infectious smiles. I’ve been performing since the age of three...and professionally for a little over 30 years.  Like a lot of performers, I’ve never experienced this complete shutdown of a whole performing arts profession.  It has been challenging trying to adjust to this new normal. But, I have faith in the creative community that we will find new ways to push forward. Music has always been special to me but now, I rely on its

strength, comfort and inspiration now more than ever to get me through those rough days. Mary Louise Lee First Lady of Denver www.facebook.com/marylouiseleeband Since March 12, the COVID19 pandemic has affected my emotional, musical, and mental passage. I can’t pretend that not being able to visit my mom in a nursing care facility has not affected my mental stability, and my heart desires to run and see her since she entered mid-March. I can’t pretend to explain the void of not performing for over six years monthly with the John Akal Ultra Phonic 20 Piece Jazz Orchestra, as their solo vocalist; and I can’t pretend that not performing with my Trio HeartStrings monthly for the past few years has not taken a toll on my emotional and musical state of mind. Even though there are monies attached to these performances, what I am affected by most is that my heart and my inner soul aches for my mom by not being able to visit her, and not being able to share my musical gifts live, and feel the acceptance from my many diverse audiences. It will be a blessing when we all can gather again and enjoy the music, and find healing in gathering together and experiencing the gifts of these musicians. In the meantime search for and enjoy the various virtual performances and stay safe. I know this is a temporary life-changing event, but we must continue to stay blessed, safe, and healthy. I love you and may God bless us all! Linda Theus-Lee www.lindatheuslee.com

RECYCLE RIGHT CORRECT • Recyclables are loose • Cart lid is open no more than 45 degrees • Carboard boxes are flattened

INCORRECT

• Recyclables are bagged • Cart is overflowing • Cart lid is open more than 45 degrees • Cardboard boxes are not flattened For more information, visit DenverGov.org/Trash or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – June 2020


We Need L eaders… Leaders… Where Will They Come From? By Charles Emmons

These are different and challenging times. While we are quarantined and getting back to what has become our new normal, we might look across the coffee table at our teenage son or daughter immersed on the couch with their phone on social media, not paying attention to us or to what is on TV. Think back to when you were a teenager and had conversations with your parents or grandparents about the significance of civil rights and the marches. Then look at today’s teens, scratch your head, and wonder what happened? And, the painful conclusion you reach is nothing. As some of us reach Medicare eligibility, it is disheartening to realize that little seems to have changed since the 60’s and 70’s. The struggle goes on. “There is no vaccine for racism. We’ve got to do the work,” said Democratic VicePresidential candidate Kamala Harris on the eve of accepting the party’s nomination. Indeed, we all have to do the work, and we cannot just shoulder all the responsibility. It’s time for all of us to get y

off the couch and get into good trouble. Our leaders of the next generation must be prepared. What will be the basis and foundation of that preparation? Traditionally our character has been steeped in faith. We look to heroes in the struggle – Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and John Lewis. These times are no different. Revolutionary thought may be necessary, but requisite implementation and action cannot veer into violence and mayhem. This isn’t good trouble. We must be mindful of our values driving our actions. History teaches us that it is never too early to pass the baton to the next generation. The late civil rights advocate Congressman John Lewis, became active in the movement before he was 21. “John Lewis did not want to be passive about the racist conditions of the country. So, when he was only 15, he stood in front of a crowd and gave his very first public sermon. From that point onward, he kept pushing to get his voice, and the voices of Black people, heard across the country,” says author and executive director and founder of Youth With A Future Dr. Robert Fomer.

Many of the Freedom Riders, who rode buses into the south to draw attention to discriminatory policies in public transportation were 19 years old with the youngest being 18. Colorado’s youngest elected official, Tay Anderson, who serves on the Denver Public School Board, is 22 years old. A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, at 23 is the youngest elected Newark, New Jersey School Board member and at 29, Alexandria OcasioCortez, representing New York City, was the youngest woman ever elected and is one of the most outspoken members elected to the U.S. Congress. Would we have even considered this possible 30 years ago? But the reality is, with there so much information available, amplified by social media to get up to speed on national and community issues, it is not too difficult. Politics is local and in Colorado it is never too early to get involved by taking that first step to vote. Seventeenyear olds can register to vote if they are going to be 18 by Election Day. Sixteen year olds can pre-register; their registration becomes automatic when they reach 18. So getting that driver’s license isn’t the only goal for your teenager. “Voting is the oxygen of our democracy,” said Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State. It’s time that we all breathe it in. Young people marched this summer in protest for justice for George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake. But leaders taking the baton still need to be nurtured and, family and schools sometimes need

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – October 2020

enhancements.Youth With a Future is a Colorado non-profit that is filling the gap with leadership training and development for young people. Their summer program concluded in August with a successful virtual session, but in preparation for the next year, tools for young people are accessible through eBooks. “As we look to the future, it will be young people like this that will have to face the different crises for them, and so what they are learning from this crisis is to be leaders in the future,” said Fomer who has developed three eBooks that are available in the Kindle platform on Amazon. “Leadership Today: Unlocking the 8 Core Values of Leadership” covers the core values 1) Friendship with a mentor; 2) Passion for purpose and people; 3) Visionary leadership; 4) Culturally relevant communication; 5) Multiplica-tion of leaders; 6) Family values as a priority; 7) Good stewardship; and 8) Commitment to integrity. Truly we have come so far, to be so far, from where we need and want to be. This is a time for great reflection, and re-generation. A young Gianna Floyd told Joe Biden, “Daddy changed the world” about her father, George. The Youth With a Future eBooks are a starting point for being better servant leaders. It’s time to get off the couch and get into good trouble. We are not in this alone. Start your journey with the young people in your life. . Editor’s note: For more information, visit the Youth With a Future website, www.ywfleaders.com.


Journey... ... ttoo the ... the W White hite H House...4,8,10,12 ouse...4,8,10,12


Waiting to Exhale!…Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Are Elected By Charles Emmons

On the morning after

Election Day, the nation woke up asking, “What happened?” Perhaps for many, the shock wasn’t as great as it was four years ago. Nevertheless it was time for a little more head scratching. As the week dragged on, we anxiously awaited to hear who had gained enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency. By the end of the week, Biden-Harris supporters were relieved, as reflected in the popular Facebook meme advising us: Breathe. While at least half of the country did breathe a sigh of relief that Joe Biden would be our next president and Kamala Harris the next vice president, what does that really mean? The hope of those who voted for this history-making duo is for an end to the endless assault on our democracy, its values and functioning representative government, as well as an opportunity to tackle national crises like systemic racism and the coronavirus. The expected blue wave didn’t materialize, and the election’s outcome didn’t indicate that a significant majority of the electorate believe the

Artist unknown

Democrats can lead us out of the perfect storm created by the pandemic, racial injustice, civil unrest, and a faltering economy. Seventy million plus voters said, “OK, Trump, you can have another four years.” Still, the fact is that 78 million-plus voters, a record number, voiced their desire for change through the ballot box. This winning block of Americans is calling upon leaders to marshal the forces of decency and fairness back into the White House. They are demanding that the national government rally the forces of science and hope to overcome the great challenges of our time. As President-Elect explained in his Nov. 7 victory speech, “Now this campaign is over,

President -Elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

what is the will of the people? What is our mandate? “I believe it is this — America has called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science and forces of hope in the great battles of our time. The battle to control the virus. The battle to build prosperity. The battle to secure your family’s health care. The battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country. And the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control. “The battle to restore decency, defend democracy, and give everyone in this coun

President-Elect Joe Biden and House

Majority Whip, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2020

try a fair shot – that is all they are asking for, a fair shot.” Biden’s stated mandates are: 1) uniting us, 2) addressing systemic racism, 3) managing the corona virus, and 4) revitalizing an economy decimated by the coronavirus. The belief of those who supported his campaign is that he is up to the task, in part because he appears to have empathy and understands the difficulties and pain that many are collectively experiencing. How did Biden arrive at his victory? President Donald Trump claimed that his opponent’s 47 years of public service were a detriment rather than an asset. At 29, Biden was the fifth youngest person to be elected to the United States Senate, representing Delaware. Soon after that accomplishment, his first wife and young daughter died and his two young sons were injured in a tragic automobile accident. Overcoming his tragic circumstances, Biden continued his service in the Senate, where he focused on foreign policy and judicial issues, becoming known as someone who could work both sides of the aisle. He made two bids for the presidency, during which time he faced another tragedy, the

President-Elect Joe Biden on the campaign trail with former President Barack Obama


death of his son. Joseph “Beau” Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. His apparently deep personal relationships appear to have helped him establish strong political partnerships. Among them is House Majority Whip, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina. Biden got to know him through time spent vacationing on Kiawah Island, S.C. Clyburn’s relationship with Biden, inside and outside of Washington, led him to proclaim of the candidate’s credibility, “We know him.” Clyburn recalls discussing Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka with Biden. Civil rights were always of interest to Biden, as he also witnessed demonstrations and the National Guard in the streets of Wilmington in 1968. One of the five cases combined with the Brown case was filed in Biden’s home state of Delaware. As a Senator, he has taken some heat for his positions on criminal justice issues that have had long-term effects on the lives of Black people. But, many have pointed out that his stances matched the context of the times and the nuances of politics when he took them. Clyburn commented in a PBS Frontline interview that in looking at Biden we should not expect perfection akin to the Almighty. Biden has admitted that perhaps his support of the 1994 Crime Bill was mistaken. Clyburn provided context, explaining that Newt Gingrich took over as speaker in the fall of 1994 and tried to strip all of the good points out of the bill, including the assault weapons ban and community policing. Clyburn also noted that his constituents in a 100% Black neighborhood in South Carolina pushed him for greater policing in their neighborhoods and mandatory minimums. Like any American, they wanted safe neighborhoods and many

members of the Congressional Black Caucus supported numerous crime bills over the years. Clyburn has been called a kingmaker, because of the scheduling of the South Carolina primary three days before Super Tuesday. His endorsement of presidential candidates has led to their winning this critically-timed primary, which aided both former Presidents Bill Clinton and

Barack Obama in obtaining the national nomination. Though Clyburn held back his public endorsement of Biden, he eventually said that he believes Biden is the right person for the job of president. Clyburn explained, “I think it says something for (Biden), the person, for Strom Thurmond to ask him to eulogize him at his service. Same thing with Fritz Hollings. Two senators, both from South

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2020

Carolina, poles apart politically, both eulogized by the same guy, simply because of the respect that they had for him. And I know a lot of people who disagree with me on almost everything but don’t hesitate to work with me, so I feel the same way about other people. And Joe ought to be proud of having the ability to do that.” Clyburn stumped through southern states for Biden. And Continued on page 6


Joe Biden President Elect

RECYCLING YOUR TREE AFTER THE HOLIDAYS IS EASY! REMOVE all decorations, lights, and the tree stand from your tree. SET YOUR TREE OUT for collection by 7 a.m. on one of your scheduled trash collection days between January 4 and 15. PICK UP FREE MULCH made from your tree at the annual Mulch Giveaway & Compost Sale in May.

COLLECTION SCHEDULE January 2021 SU MO 28 3 4 10 11 17 H 24 25 31

TU 29 5 12 19 26

WE 30 6 13 20 27

TH 31 7 14 21 28

FR H 8 15 22 28

SA 2 9 16 23 30

Download our Denver Trash and Recycling app for Treecycle collection reminders! If you do not receive Denver Solid Waste Management services, please visit DenverGov.org/Treecycle for our list of drop-off sites.

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Continued from page 5 Obama stumped for him in the Midwest as he tried to rebuild the so-called blue wall. Having two of the most powerful and influential Black men in the country endorse Biden speaks highly for his leadership qualifications and temperament. True to the unwritten code among former presidents, Obama has not being particularly vocal in the past four years of the Trump presidency. However, he broke his relative silence by coming out to help campaign for his friend and former White House colleague. In a campaign video from a speech in Flint, Mich. in October, Obama expounded, “Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden. And he will be a great president. Now I’ll admit, 12 years ago, when I asked him to be the nominee for vice president with me when I was running, I didn’t know Joe that well. We had served together in the Senate. But he and I came from different places, part of different generations. But I quickly came to admire Joe as a man who learned early on to treat everybody he meets with dignity and with respect, living by the words his mom taught him, “No one’s better than you, Joe. But you’re no better than anybody else. “And that sense of decency, and empathy, the belief in hard work and family and faith, the belief that everybody counts, that’s who Joe is. And that’s who he’ll be as president. I can tell you; the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it shows who you are. It reveals who you are. And for eight years, Joe was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision. And he made me a better president. He’s got the character and the experience to make us a better country. And he and Kamala are going to be in the fight, not for themselves, but for every single one of us.”

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2020

Clyburn noted on CNN on Nov. 7 that he had urged Biden to choose a Black woman as his running mate, saying, “I gave all my advice to him in private. But I’m very pleased that it was a Black woman selected – I think it cemented his relationship to the Black community.” With Kamala Harris as the first woman, first African American and first South Asian American on the ballot as vice president, Black women turned out in huge numbers with 91% of them voting for the BidenHarris ticket. Biden flipped numerous states to blue on his way to his victory, the last two being Arizona and Georgia. He won a projected 306 Electoral College votes compared to Trump’s 232. It appears that the current president has no chance of being reelected, despite his Twitter complaints and lawsuits about a stolen election and voter fraud. Many in the nation are trying to move on and exhale joyously, as we learn from our past, move forward into the future and hope to build a more perfect union. In his victory speech, Biden concluded, “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States. I’ve long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. And what presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail. Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe.”.


Voting in the Battleground States…

Victory! By Charles Emmons

This election was historically contentious. Some polls predicted a blue wave against President Donald Trump that never materialized. Doubt was cast upon the democracy and voting in the United States. Fifty-five years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many people still have misgivings about whether their votes actually count. The voting process has evolved, but so have efforts to suppress and curtail the vote as the American electorate has changed demographically. The Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder, threatens to derail the advances in election integrity by removing oversight and permission at the federal level, deemed by opponents of the law as no longer necessary, like when it was enacted in the 1960s. The COVID-19 pandemic brought new obstacles and challenges to voting in 2020, forcing states to derive better

solutions to facilitate voting. While Trump and his supporters cast doubt on the innovations in voting methods, large populations voted early and by mail across the country. Biden supporters, who were twice as likely to vote by mail than Trump supporters, flipped results in the battleground states of Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona where Trump had led early on. These states in the Midwest and the South, similar to other states, ended up with the largest voter turnouts in history.

Battleground Michigan There was a tremendous drive in Michigan to register Black voters. Democratic Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II hit the campaign trail in Michigan, targeting Black voters. He held virtual events and roundtables, and led a march to register young Black men. Gilchrist wasn’t just working to motivate urban Black voters. Black voters were a big part of the story in turning the suburbs blue, too. Republicans challenged the certification of votes in Detroit, but later changed this tactic after Democratic committee members called them out. Adrian Hemond, co-founder of the bipartisan firm, Grassroots Midwest, said in a Nov. 7

MLive interview, “Black voters turned out for Joe Biden in Michigan and everywhere else, and I don’t think he gets enough credit for his ability to motivate African American voters, particularly women. That’s absolutely real. That made a difference.”

Battleground Georgia Stacey Abrams, after her defeat in 2018 in the gubernatorial race, spent tremendous time and effort to register voters in Georgia where it was believed 1.4 million voters had been purged. An estimated 53,000, of which more than 80% were Black voters, had their registrations moved to pending, requiring signatures deemed exact matches. As a result of Abrams’ efforts, more than 800,000 new people are estimated to have registered to vote in Georgia since 2018, with Abrams telling NPR that 45% of these new voters are under the age of 30 and 49% are people of color. In addition, Abrams told NPR that she and her team were able to get rid of the “exact match” policy before the 2020 election. Though I can only research what others are saying about voting in Michigan, I happen to have family in Georgia and the other two battleground states that flipped blue. So, I reached

out to them to find out about their voting experiences.

Kirk and Iris are military retirees working for HUD and the EPA, respectively. They live in Douglasville, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Both have voted since they turned 18. They voted in person, but experienced a five and a half hour wait at the sole polling place in the county for the first week of voting. They didn’t experience any specific suppression or feel threatened, but they were frustrated because the elections staff seemed disorganized and underestimated the demand. Nykia, the eldest daughter of Kirk and Iris, is an electrical engineer living in Georgia. She has voted in every presidential and state election since 1998. She also voted in local city elections until this year, because she moved to a home outside of the city limits. She said, “I got an absentee ballot but decided to vote in

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2020


person instead because I had gnawing doubts about the security of mail-in voting, due to Trump and his rhetoric. I surrendered my ballot when I went in person. I had to wait just over 90 minutes to vote in Cherokee County on the first day of early voting. I didn’t experience any voter suppression. I thought one older gentleman may have been a Trump supporter trying to be a poll observer, but it turned out he was just looking around for his wife so we he could get his place in line. I brought my daughter with me and we wore masks the entire time. Some people were wearing masks and others weren’t. I tried to keep six feet of distance between us and other people, but once we were finally inside of the building to vote, social distancing became impossible to maintain.� Imani, the younger daughter of Kirk and Iris, is a television producer living in Georgia. She said that she and her husband “were able to submit absentee ballot requests in plenty of time and promptly filled them out when they arrived. After a couple of weeks, I looked online and found that our ballots had been accepted. We did not experience any suppression where we live. I must say that our county is very organized and on top of all government matters. Each of us have voted in all of the elections we were old enough to. That means I’ve voted four times and Wesley has voted three. All around our voting experience was quite smooth and we’re looking forward to casting our ballots in the upcoming runoff. We’ve already requested absentee ballots.� 

Battleground Pennsylvania Erica lives in Pittsburgh, Penn., and is self-employed. This was her third voting experience and she hopes her

state continues to offer mail-in ballots in the future. She said, “Voting was so easy this time around. I opted for the mail-in ballot to avoid the long lines and in-person contact. I actually did not experience any voter suppression because of this. But every day I received texts, phone calls, and emails from various organizations asking if I voted. Honestly it was toeing the line of harassment. But it definitely served as a reminder of how imperative this election was. Most of my friends who voted in person said the atmosphere was very encouraging and professional.�

Battleground Arizona

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Sophia is from Mesa, Arizona and a junior at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She voted for the first time, and chose to use a mailin ballot that she ended up dropping off at the local voting drop box. She did not experience voter suppression. Richard, Sophia’s father, lives in Laveen, Arizona, and works in sales. He has voted four times in the past. He voted in person and did not have to wait at his polling place.. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2020


Colorado African American Network

Special Commemorative Election Publication November 2016

The Webb Report

Reflections of the Past, Representing the Present, Planning for the Future


On the Road for the White House… E

lection Day is close. Ballots

Donna Brazille

have been mailed.Voter registration reps roam the entrances of supermarkets with

Photos by Bernard Grant

clipboards in hand ensuring passersby’s are registered for one of the most important elections of the new century. Are you ready? Do you have a plan for voting? Are you bringing your friends and family along with you? Colorado has some of the most progressive voting laws in the country.You can vote by mail or you can register and vote on the very same day. What could be easier? Despite the ease of this process, some people still don’t vote. They don’t feel their vote will count or the candidates don’t express their exact views. President Barack Obama currently has a 57 percent approval rating, the highest of any previous president at this point of his term with 10.7 million jobs created and 20 million people with healthcare who did not have it before. This is significant progress in a political climate that was unfriendly to progressive initiatives and nearly brought government to a standstill. It is important to sustain this progress. Who knows what would happen if those less progressive or unsympathetic are elected. To make sure you vote for continued progress, Democratic Party surrogates have hit the road all around the country. Social media worked significantly for Barack Obama, but old Democrats like former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, know there is nothing like a good ground game to get out the vote. They tell you about the critical nature of this election is to our future. We cannot turn back the clock.

Donna Brazille The first to come was the new Democratic Chairperson, Donna Brazille. The Louisiana native has been a frequent commentator on CNN. But she left that desk in order to campaign for Hillary Clinton, Colorado U.S. Senate incumbent Michael Bennet, U.S. House Representatives candidate Morgan Carroll, and other democrats. Brazille addressed a group of democrats at Moe’s Original BBQ in Aurora in August. Brazille’s has been a political organizer more than 30 years. She first met Wellington Webb in 1982, and had the opportunity to work with House Representative Pat Schroeder. “I was a student who benefitted from Title IX, and I just want to let you know, Pat Schroeder

was such an amazing lawmaker. She represented us well. Pat Schroeder, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm - so you can imagine my roots when it comes to equal rights; when it comes to civil rights; and when it comes to making sure that this country will never go back on the commitment to ensuring that every American citizen will have equal rights and equal protection under the law.” Brazille has nine presidential campaigns under her belt, and for her the stakes couldn’t be higher. “We have to keep the White House because that is the house that will give us all a roof over our heads and give all our children a head start, and it matters that Hillary will become the 45th president of the United States of America.” Secretary Clinton has been a friend for more than 30 years, and although some may question her integrity, Brazille trusts her implicitly. “I trust her with every part of my life. I trust her to make sure that every child has a head start. I trust her that workers and organizers and students can go to school. I trust her to build the infrastructure in this country to keep America safe and strong. What more do you need to know about how you should trust her? That when we are asleep at night she is not going to Tweet at 3 in the morning and start a war someplace. We trust her. We are around her.” Clinton’s passions and levelheadedness

confirms Brazille’s endorsement and advocacy for the candidate. She commented on Clinton’s path after college. “She went down to Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi to serve disabled children and poor children and to help them have a school and get a head start. That is why I trust her to continue to do what is right and what is just.” Clinton was a classmate with not only Bill Clinton at Yale Law School, but also Robert Reich (Secretary of Labor 1993-97) and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. What else is at stake? Supreme Court appointments. For Brazille, now is not the time to turn back time in areas where we have achieved progress, often viewed as limited. “And whether you are for voting rights, gay and lesbian rights or workers’ rights, we have to demand that we have justices that will make sure all Americans will not face discrimination, and that we will not go back to the days when you cannot marry the person you love. So I trust that Hillary Clinton will make good appointments to the supreme court of the United States.” This election is about looking forward. Certainly historically, Democrats in the modern era have been more willing to put forth progressive and moderate initiatives for the benefit of everyone, yet the needle hasn’t moved much because of politics. The obstruction that President Obama has faced is unprecedented, and Secretary

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

Clinton will need able allies for needed change. “So don’t send people to congress who will not reflect your values. We have to have people in congress who will work for all American people and that is why I am proud to say that Michael Bennet should return to congress. He’s a great environmentalist, and he is someone who reflects your values.” Brazille’s background is no different from many other hard-working Americans. She was born to a janitor and a maid. Her father later joined the service, and they put at least eight children through college. “My father was a veteran, and I care about our nation’s veterans. I’m 56 years old, so this is for all you millennials. I love you. I am giving back and paying it forward. I want to win, because it is so vital that we don’t turn back the page of history. We have come so far.” Before you sign that mail in ballot or pull the lever in the polls, remember that this critically important election is about the future, your future and the future of your families and children. What is our involvement in bringing needed change to our communities and country? Many public officials have echoed the sentiment that bad people are elected to office and make bad decisions when people don’t vote. “This election is too vital for us to sit back and to not help out all of our candidates from the courthouse all the way to the White House. Whether the issue is about the environment or raising the minimum wage – which I stand for 100 percent – we must turn this election into a referendum on the future and know which candidate and which political party believes in the future and will fight for the future. It doesn’t matter if you are a poor child in the bayou of Louisiana or a middle class worker on your second shift, we need everybody to get out and make sure that everybody registers and votes.” “Let’s send these great people to the state house so that the governor has two more years to make a lot of progress and a lot of change. Let’s send these great people to congress. And let’s put a woman in the White House. I have joy. I have joy. This election is about our future. To some of you I have said this before. I have lived long enough to see a Black president of the United States, and thanks be to God, I am going to see the first woman elected. So there is no stopping us now. I want to see the first Hispanic, the first Asian American; I want to see the first openly


...On the Road to Democracy By Charles Emmons gay American, the first Muslim American, and the first Jewish American. We have no more boundaries in this country. There is no ceiling high enough, because we are going to soar this Election Day,” Brazille said as she pumped up the capacity crowd at the event hosted by the Arapahoe Democrats. And the work to get voters out in Colorado continued by numerous, people, including Denver East High School alumni, actor, producer, director Don Cheadle, and some perhaps not so well known like Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

chances of continuing, needed changes are greatly improved. There are 52 seats at stake in the U.S. House that Democrats want to take back. Clinton’s campaign tagline is “Stronger Together” and earlier this year, she made the statement “more unites us than divides us.” For Lee this is the crux of democratic initiatives and progress. “That is very true, and that is what she is focusing on. And what the campaign is focusing on and when you look at, for example, education – access to affordable quality education from beginning in pre-

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee

school. All of our young people, not only families who can afford a good quality public education, but everyone should have access to that. Hillary Clinton’s past history record and what she stands for now, speaks volumes to education, debt free college education, and ensuring the strengthening of our minority serving institutions because education is an equalizer.” We have made progress in education and economically, and we must continue to choose political allies that understand our issues and bring them to the forefront from the statehouse to the White House. Despite what Hillary Clinton’s opponent has said about African Americans being taken for granted, we know that is not true. “African Americans are very smart voters. African Americans have voted for the best candidates who are going to address all of the issues in terms of racial justice, in terms of equality, in terms of voting rights, in terms of jobs, and education. African Americans are very discerning in who they vote for because we know who we vote for and what they stand for. We know how to hold people, elected officials

Rep. Barbara Lee has been a Democratic political soldier for years. Representing California’s 13th District that includes the city of Oakland and parts of former Representative Ronald Dellums district, she is known for casting the only dissenting House vote for bombing Iraq during the presidency of George W. Bush. Lee came to Colorado in September for numerous events to make sure we understand how crucial voting is in this most important swing state. “Colorado is a state that is critical. People here are very politically aware and astute and I am here not just to help push the vote out for Secretary Clinton but also for our congressional candidates as well. I am cautiously optimistic about taking back the house. Hillary Clinton as president will need a democratic House of Representatives.” There hasn’t been a Democratic House majority since President Obama’s first term. Even then with a Republican senate majority it was improbable, that he would be able to advance progressive legislation. With allies in the House and reaching across the aisle, Hillary Clinton’s

accountable.” Donald Trump’s comments are insulting to African Americans. It implies that we are lacking the mindset to make political decisions. “That implies we don’t know what we are doing. It implies we don’t know who we are voting for, it implies we don’t know the issues, it implies we are uneducated about our vote and our candidates, and that to me is just insulting and it’s disrespectful.” Lee is a political fighter, and her predecessor and mentor, House Representative Shirley Chisholm endured insults and disrespect as she served and became the first woman to run for the presidency. “Shirley Chisholm was a great woman. She got me involved in politics. She was my mentor. She had to deal with a lot of the sexism and racism. When I look at how she paved the way for Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and now Hillary Clinton, Shirley accomplished much and cracked that ceiling. And now when I see and listen to Hillary Clinton, as I know Hillary Clinton, she has really embodied what Shirley once said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, then bring a folding chair.” Well Hillary Clinton not only has brought that folding chair, but she has created that table for everyone to have a voice.”

Don Cheadle Despite the advances gained through civil rights and social justice movements, it has taken a long time for African Americans to have a seat at the table not only in the politics, but in the entertainment industry as well. Those who continue to rise are using their platform to stand up for and show the world what is right and just. Actor, producer, director, and Denver East alumni, Don Cheadle returned to Colorado to work with young volunteers in Denver to get out the vote. Our neighborhoods are changing, as well as the population centers of our

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

cities. Cheadle was interviewed by the Hillary Clinton Campaign Captain for Colorado, Annie Ruiz at the EXDO Center in the RINO neighborhood. (The interview was streamed over Facebook.) Cheadle, who was his usual affable self, told the small gathering of volunteers that there was still much work to be done. “We are under 100 days and it is very important that we all do what we can to energize this movement and make sure people get to the polls and avail themselves of the right to have their voices heard.” Cheadle is a political fighter on a world scale, being an advocate for social justice in Africa. “We’re a battleground state no matter what anybody else tells you. It’s really important because the polls are getting closer, and closer. We want to make sure that we get that gap larger and larger. Make sure that young people understand how important this is. And with this election, I can’t think in recent history of any more stark contrast between two candidates.” The debates are in the can. Donald Trump has shown who he is. Hillary Clinton has shown who she is and what we can be, stronger together. At this point, now is not the time to turn back the clock. We must continue to look forward and leverage the tools, knowledge, and resources available to make this the best country. “When I was 17, 18, 19 years old, I did not have the luxury of the internet, and the ability to really network and communicate pretty easily with likeminded individuals who are asking themselves the same questions.You can literally ask Siri, “How can I get involved?” So it has never been easier to find a place to get together. And if you ask yourself that question and take stock in your own life, were do you have influence? Where do you find your community? Is it in church? Is it in school? Is it at your workplace? A lot of people think that they have no power as individuals and that’s not true. You always have the power to take stock and find people who are already doing it. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. The strongest thing you can do is to find those people who are already doing it and they can show you how to slip into that Jetstream and amplify your voice.” This election is about the future of the country. How do our leaders reflect who we are and what we stand for? This is a critical question. Continued on page 4


On The Road for the White House... Continued from page 3 “There are so many things that we, not only as individuals but as a nation, need to look at including how we want to be seen globally, and how we want to be seen as world leaders, not isolationists, xenophobic. What we really don’t want to do is go backwards. I think a lot of the policies we are hearing, that are coming out of the Republican Party, would send us in the opposite direction. They want to repeal Obamacare. They want to rescind all the progress that the LGBT community has made. They want to roll it back to a time that was not favorable to anyone who didn’t look a certain way. The rhetoric has never been more dangerous.You see a lot of the vitriol coming out where they are not hiding.” “That, however, gives me more impetus than ever to do what I am doing and encourage people that if you don’t want to lose all of the gains that we made, and you want to see progress as opposed to regression, then you have to come out and let your voices be heard and encourage those around you. This isn’t a time to sit on our hands and not be a part of this process. If they are going to come out in blocks and vote in lockstep, we have to as well. This can’t be one where we wake up Nov. 9 and we go, ‘oh man I really should have done something. “ Photo by Bernard Grant

Mayor Shirley Franklin The images of politicians shaking hands and kissing babies is imbedded in our collective psyche, but it is meaningless if they are not engaged and doing the work for their constituents. One of the hardest working public servants, former Atlanta mayor, Shirley Franklin also answered the call this fall. Stopping at events at the Automobile Dealers Association and a

town hall meeting at Blair Caldwell Library, she continued the work of this important campaign for democracy. “The last time I was here I was campaigning. Many of you in Denver opened your pocketbooks to help me win what was an improbable race. I had never run for office before. I met Wellington in a downtown hotel. He sat me down and said ‘You know you are going to lose this race if you don’t change what you are doing.’ So he gave me some great political advice. I remember it to this day. He said ‘you have to meet the people wherever they are and however few or many there are.Voters are not going to come to you. You have to go to them. That really kind of shifted my campaign a lot. I think it is a model we have to use.You’ve got to go where the people are, however many or few, so we can make sure we are inspiring for this important election.” At these political gatherings where we glean inspiration and enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, there could be 10, 25 or 100 people. It doesn’t matter, as long as you are listening and reaching them in some way. For Franklin, 183 is a significant number. One hundred eighty three was the margin of votes that won her election to mayor, in a city that had up until her race, resolved elections with runoffs. In her heart she believes those 183 were some of the last she encountered closest to Election Day. One must not believe your vote has no consequence. “Those were the people that I saw in small groups and in some way or another made an impact on them, or my surrogates met them and were able to tell their story. Which brings me to my point – each of us who believe in a democracy has to be surrogates for that democracy. Now I would like you to be a surrogate for my candidate, but mostly I would like you to be a surrogate for democracy.” The shrill alarmist tone from the other side and his notion that he can fix everything that is wrong and specious reasoning. This is a country that has problems, yet it is wrongheaded to believe one person can fix them. “The reason this country is great is because people invested; they invested there time, their talents, their energy, and their resources. And the most important resource…money is great we got to have it, but the most important resource is your passion and your time. I’m here because Colorado matters to me. Let me say that again. What you do in November and how people vote in Colorado in November matters to me in Georgia.” Politics may be local, but it is crucial to understand that the individual voter is part of the electorate whole. Pundits and analysts on CNN and other networks will shuffle the colors on the map. Colorado is a purple state now, but is on the verge of going blue.

“But I know that Colorado will go blue. So that is one of the reasons that I just want to pitch in and give you encouragement. If you need any encouragement, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bennet are the kind of leaders that we need. They are the kind of leaders who are smart, good, know what they are talking about, do their research, and have been on the ground. We know what their record is. They have great vision so they are not pie in the sky. They don’t make it up as they go. They are also the kind of folks who stay connected. We’ve seen that in many different ways. “ Hillary Clinton has a record of being a champion for children and families. As the baton is passed to future generations, it is imperative to have competent, insightful, reasonable leaders who understand what must be done for the betterment of all who contribute their sweat and toil for this country. “I am not sure what the other candidate for president is going to say between now and then in November, but he has said enough for me to know that I wouldn’t hire him for my cabinet. He has said enough for me that I would not want to leave the country in his hands for my grandchildren and great grandchildren one day. In part it is because what he says, but I don’t know whether he means anything that he says or whether he means all that he is saying.” “I can run as a woman. I ran as someone I believe who was qualified and committed. I believe that is what she is doing. I was obviously a woman. She is obviously a woman. There is no question from me and from many Americans, and for many of you, that it is important to break the glass ceiling. But it is most important to have a smart, dedicated, committed president who will pay attention to the issues that matter long-term.” Issues linger and now is not the time for complacency. It takes hard work to lead this country in a manner that is just. It takes resolve and temperament to manage dissension and unreasonableness evident in congress. Franklin believes Clinton’s Republican opponent lacks a fundamental misunderstanding of how government works and the necessity of compromise and reason. “He’s assumed that party affiliation can solve the problems the country faces. And party affiliation doesn’t solve problems. It helps you elect people who struggle with that.” Clearly the Obama presidency has been a battle with Congress and the rest of the world. Policy initiatives are questioned, and his authority has at times been perceived as illegitimate. In such an atmosphere it is difficult to govern, but Democrats have not taken African Americans for granted. “We all know about some of the things that President Obama has struggled with just in terms of developing policy. Had it not been for the

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

Democrats we would not have a health care system that is more inclusive. Had it not been for Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate we would not have a fairer system for college loans and interest. Had it not been for the Democrats we might not have de-escalated the war. So he (Donald Trump) has a very narrow view of how the political process works.” Our needs and issues are common. Effective politics requires communication, consensus, and compromise. “I believe Hillary Clinton is correct, which is most Americans want opportunities for their families, opportunities for their children, and an opportunity to live in a peaceful world. And all of that unites us whether you are in a party affiliation or a nonparty affiliation and frankly whether you are from most of the world’s population. There are clear differences in terms of opportunity that African Americans have had in the United States. We have suffered some tremendous obstacles in achieving our personal, family, and community goals.”

Wes Moore Is there still an American Dream, particularly for African Americans? Education is the assumed equalizer, yet cities around the country face the same problems of deficiencies in high school graduation rates and an ill-prepared workforce for 21st century jobs. Baltimorean, author, social entrepreneur, producer, decorated U.S. Army officer, veterans’ and education advocate Wes Moore came to Denver to address veterans groups in September. “I am a very proud Baltimorean, but I know that the issues that are being debated now are not just going to impact Baltimore and they are not just going to impact Maryland. Who we elect this election cycle is going to be incredibly important.” While late in the campaign there are distractions, talk of conspiracy theories,


and little discussion about the issues. Character in a president is important, and we should be appalled, but what is at stake should not be minimized. “It’s almost easier to say what’s not at stake because there is not a single issue where we don’t have long-term implications as we are thinking about it. When we think about growth in terms of access and completion of education. When we think about our standing around the globe. When we think about what is happening with our military and how we think about military deployments. How we think about military activities and how we take care of our veterans when they come back home. How we think about issues of housing and equity and how we think about economics. There isn’t a single issue that the next president isn’t going to be wrestling and debating with, and I think that adds a level of seriousness that we have to take with this decision.” It is not time to think that we have healthcare, we have low unemployment and higher employment, and we cannot sit back and let things take care of themselves. We need a president that understands how to create policies and implement them. Hillary Clinton understands that these advances have had a lesser impact on many of our citizens, and more work needs to be done. “Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who has put together a real plan and policies about not only what it means to have college access, but also what it means to have completion and what the importance of it is. We have a situation right now in my hometown of Baltimore. In the year 2020, 80 percent of all the jobs in Baltimore City are going to require a post-secondary credential, community college, four-year college, or trade school, something past Frederick Douglass High School. And currently 2/3 of all Baltimore City high school graduates after six years out of high school have nothing.” Denver and Aurora are no different. Jobs of the future will require more than a high school diploma. “I think that the next president has got to have a very clear and cogent understanding of not just what needs to be done, but the importance of what needs to be done. And these are things that Hillary Clinton is not new to. Hillary Clinton has been advocating and pushing for these types of opportunities for her entire career. So I think about who I trust on those issues that I care deeply about, and one of those issues is how do we turn educational assets and opportunities into real long-term prospects for our citizens. She is the person that I trust with that responsibility.” Another issue that Moore cares about is military veterans. As an advocate for veterans, he understands their plight and struggles, and the issues and mechanisms that have impeded their care and progress

when they return home. The VA serves veterans from all our foreign wars. It was the last federal agency to convert to an electronic filing system. While Clinton’s opponent has said he will fix the VA and stand up for veterans, there has been little, if any, specific better policies proposed. “Secretary Clinton has actually put together very detailed plans about what making the VA better actually means. Standing with veterans behind you is one thing. Coming up with core policies about what makes veterans stand up for themselves and have true advocates for them in the White House is something completely different. And so when you think about where Donald Trump has been on theses issues and where Secretary Clinton has been on these issues it’s a completely night and day comparison.” Moore, an Afghanistan war veteran, has elevated his commitment to his country. And he is ready to continue to fight for what is right and what is needed. “Every single victory that we have had in this country has had to have been hard fought. And every single bit of progress that we have made has got to be protected. There will be no coasting to victory in this election. There will be no, ‘oh well she has got it in the bag in this election,’ because one thing we have to understand is that is not the way our democracy works. Our democracy works by making sure that people are active. Our democracy works by making sure people are involved and engaged. And that means not just going out and saying ‘if I vote or if I don’t vote, it kind of doesn’t matter, because she has got the win. It’s about really understanding the issues and why she is the best candidate.” “In my opinion, it is a very clear choice. It’s the reason why I want to spend my time and lend my voice and whatever I have to make sure she becomes the next president of the United States. But the reason isn’t just because I think she is a better person. The reason is that I think the issues that she is going to advocate for are that important to our country’s future, and therefore we have to take this election incredibly seriously when it comes to not just leading up to it, but post after she is elected.”

U.S. Rep Marcia Fudge Surrogates like Marcia Fudge have their eye on the future and are mindful of the past accomplishments of Democrats that must be sustained. Fudge came to Colorado to address a group from the Delta sorority as a guest of former Colorado Senator Hon. Gloria Tanner. Fudge is a U.S. Representative from Ohio, another crucial swing state. Working in the House, she has a keen understanding of her colleagues, what is lacking, and what is needed. “First thing I think is at stake is we would have a president that would get the

U.S. Rep Marcia Fudge

respect of the rest of the world. Certainly we need a president that needs to understand the significance of public education, as we find ourselves in situations where schools are becoming more segregated, and they are continuing to take away resources for public education. What is important is that we maintain Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as we know it. And that we would not allow Social Security to be privatized, because as you look at it, the fact that more than 50 percent of all Black women that have retired are on Social Security. And if it were to be privatized, a large portion of them would go into poverty almost immediately. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are signature programs and safety nets brought to America by Democrats. Jack Greenberg, one of the attorneys who argued Brown v. Board of Education in front of the Supreme Court, died in midOctober. Progress in this country has always required the best efforts of everyone, and everyone must have access to opportunities to be their best. “The Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants – I could go on and on about what is at stake in this election. I think what is important is we understand that if we don’t vote in this election, if we don’t elect Hillary Clinton, we will not recover in my lifetime. Because the people who I work with are already talking about how they are cutting public education, so our children will never get a fighting chance. They are already talking about doing the things we have discussed, cutting Pell Grants, changing what we provide for our seniors and for our poor and for our disabled.” “Do we want to continue to be the leading nation in the world or do we want for us to not understand how important it is for us to do things like infrastructure, research and technology to still be the leading nation in the world?” The perception is that America leads, but it should not be in this position at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged.

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

In urban areas, infrastructures and spirits are crumbling. What is happening in cities requires our attention. “It’s really not Democrat or Republican, red or blue. Roads are roads. Bridges are bridges. They will not pass an infrastructure bill. They just won’t do it.” Whether it is deteriorating infrastructure or lead in the water or in dilapidating buildings, sometimes government is needed as a protection, when the marketplace fails. “They just don’t believe that people, who are poor people and who are struggling, are deserving. They believe that they are not deserving of our help. And in my opinion that is part of why we are elected officials – to take care of the people we represent. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided some jobs to people in Colorado along the I-70, I-270 corridor. Roadways that we travel daily need repair. We have relegated government the responsibility of managing and maintaining systems and policy areas that interconnect us. If these are taken care of we can go about the business of our daily lives, managing our businesses, taking care of our families and our children. This election is about maintaining that future we desire. It requires everyone’s participation in using their voice. “We need to energize millenials in a way that says to them no matter the election or the people that are running, their futures are at stake in every election. “Young people, if they can’t get their Pell Grants, if they can’t go to school, if they can’t send their children to school, if they are not going to have healthcare or they get bankrupt when they get sick or the other things that go along with being young and to be able to buy your first home - all of the things that are important to them. They should understand that this election is about them, it is not about me. It is about the future of this country It has been said that millenials are a changing generation. They see everyone as equals; race and color are not so much Continued on page 6


...On the Road to Democracy Continued from page 5 a factor, and are in fact strength in shaping the culture of the workplace. They played a significant role in electing our first African American president in 2008, yet Fudge points out that their participation dropped off 40 percent for his re-election in 2012. Even if their favored candidate didn’t win the nomination, their idealism must again be harnessed and leveraged. “So if what they really want is to live in a nation where they believe that all people are equal, where they believe that where there is no hate and where everyone has a shot at the American Dream, then they ought to want to vote, because every single young person that votes makes a decision to involve themselves in their future. And I don’t know how many people just want other people to continue to make decisions for them. And that is what you do when you don’t vote, you allow whoever wins to make the decision for you as to what happens in your life.” Your vote matters. Progress is a process. Shirley Chisholm paved the way for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Just because we have seen and experienced this milestone in history, which many of us thought we would never see, doesn’t mean we can sit back and hope that Hillary Clinton will be elected. From a legacy standpoint, we cannot put President Obama’s legacy in the hands of someone who does not respect him. “So I think it’s important that we realize that it is important for people of color, who in a very short order, are going to be the majority of people in this country start to invest in our futures by putting people in office who understand our problems and our concerns and who agree with the fact that there are some changes needed to be made to make everybody’s life better.” “I would just like to say, bad people are put in office by good people who don’t vote. And even though, in Colorado which has a very progressive voting system – most states do not. Since the Shelby decision three years ago, more than 20 states have made it more difficult for people to vote. People don’t try to take away from you that which has no value. They understand the value of the vote. We need to understand the value as well, and exercise our right to vote to ensure that for generations to come, we have some influence on our own destiny.”

U.S. Rep James Clyburn Political soldiers who have long fought for justice economically, educationally, and socially understand the need to shape our own destinies given the opportunities that we have been afforded. Representing the 6th District in South Carolina, James Clyburn is the 3rd ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A

U.S. Rep James Clyburn

founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), his roots are deep in the Civil Rights Movement as he completes his 24th year in Congress. He spoke to a small gathering at the African Grill and Bar in Green Valley Ranch and at a campaign event of U.S. Senate candidate Morgan Carroll. He has a down to earth manner, and he reminded the group at the restaurant that although there has been progress, it has to be sustained, because of Supreme Court decisions and the attempted erosion by Congress of different civil rights legislation. Every vote will count to get representatives that will maintain progress. “Most people are aware of the rightward drift that is taking place in this country that came rushing forward after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Or the advent of the so-called Tea Party in 2010, and the Republicans took over the congress. They have been working hard to repeal not just the Affordable Care Act. But if you look at all the bills they propose, it is cutting away at things like the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court has given almost a death knell to the most effective part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But while folks are looking at the Supreme Court they aren’t looking at what the Congress is doing to the Civil Rights Act.” The seeming overarching notion that okay, we have gotten this far...we have a Black president, we’re 50 years past certain legislation, and the wrongs have been righted we don’t need it anymore, simply isn’t true. For Clyburn the pendulum continues to swing back right to left and back again. “This whole notion that once you cross a threshold you don’t have to worry about that anymore, I have never understood how we ever got to that point. Because the same Supreme Court that gave us Dred Scott, gave us Plessey v Ferguson. What gave us Brown v. Board of Education now gave us Shelby. So it keeps

going back right to left, back right again, back left again. And the only thing that keeps this country from drifting too far left or too far right is the intervention of voters. And if the voters don’t intervene, this country will drift over the edge. So that is what makes this election very consequential.” Clyburn wants to see everyone engaged, and is somewhat concerned about what he sees on social media and its perpetuation of sound bites, negativity and misinformation on the Internet. Sometimes you have to go beyond the 144 characters on Twitter. Government requires effort and coalition building to resolve common problems. Clyburn supports Clinton because of her willingness and commitment. “Let’s deal with economics. On four occasions with Hillary Clinton, I heard it very clear that if she is elected, the Congressional Black Caucus’ Antipoverty Program will be the center of her programs. And at the center of that program is our 10-20-30 Initiative, that is targeting 10 percent of all the money in any particular category, each of those areas where 20 percent of the population is stuck below the poverty level for the last 30 years. We always measure persistent poverty by more than 30 years. And we always say that a county or a community that has 20 percent or more of the population at the poverty level for 30 years is a persistent poverty county. So we have said if this is true we ought to fight this process by targeting 10 percent of the money into that community. She has adopted that. There are just less than 500 counties, 496 that fall into that category.” Chronic poverty is race neutral. There are numerous counties around the country that have fit and benefitted from the 10-20-30 Initiative, 139 represented by Democrats, 331 represented by Republicans and 18 were split. Some of the poorest counties in the country include rural areas of the south, mining regions in Appalachia, and Native

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

American communities in the Dakotas. We have to come together to address these problems. 10-20-30, initially proposed in the Stimulus has benefitted 4,655 rural communities with $1.7 billion in funding to give clean water and infrastructure. It has been adopted in a bi-partisan way for other appropriations. Poverty and investment is just a part of the equation. Clinton also proposes reforms in the criminal justice system and a commitment to education. “She has made it very clear of what her commitment is on early childhood education. She has made it very clear on what her commitment is to traditional Black colleges, and to the cost of student loans so that kids can get a post-secondary education and not come out with massive debt. That is why she called it debt free education. I would like someone in the Black community to tell me what Trump’s education program is.” Hillary Clinton will build upon President Obama’s legacy. His great accomplishment, that is often maligned, is the Affordable Care Act. “Let me make this clear. She will build upon the Affordable Care Act. Now the Affordable Care Act has brought 20 million people into insurance coverage. And these guys keep talking about the expense of the program. Before the Affordable Care Act, the way insurance companies kept down their expenses was to kick women off their policies when they found out they had breast cancer or something, kick men off for prostate cancer, and denying coverage to children born with diabetes.” There are key benefits to the legislation. 1.) No denial for pre-existing conditions, 2.) Children can retain coverage up until the age of 26, 3.) Caps on coverage are eliminated, and 4.) Under the 80/20 provision insurance can spend no more than 20 percent of premiums for operating costs; otherwise they go back to the customers. For Clyburn the impact of this legislation became personal when he received an email from a constituent in Florence, SC. “She said the night that we passed the bill she stayed up. We passed it on a Sunday night; it was almost midnight. She said she stayed up all night waiting on that bill to pass because her 8 year-old child had been treated for cancer and they lost coverage. They had reached their limit, because of the cancer treatment. She remembered sitting and worrying about would happen to her and her husband if one of them got sick, or if her child’s cancer was to come back. She said passing the Affordable Care Act solved that problem.’” Good effective government most often requires bold solutions like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and the Affordable Care Act. It also requires agencies that protect us as a whole like the EPA and more recently the CFPB.Yes


Sen. Elizabeth Warren

these must be funded, but what happens if these safety nets and agencies are not available for us or our families. As a citizen, it is more than a right; it is your duty to stand for democracy and what you believe in by voting in leaders from the statehouse to the White House who will represent your interests.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has rock star status in the Democratic Party. She made a swing through Colorado in October appearing on the Auraria Campus with Sen. Bernie Sanders. Warren exemplifies what Democracy is about. She got right to it in her address. The entire address can be viewed on YouTube. “I am proud of the debate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have had in this campaign,” she said. “I am proud that we have the most progressive Democratic platform in American history.” There have been differences in this campaign. But the differences have made us stronger. In her address she changed the conversation. Democrats often viewed as taxing and spending by Republicans, the real story that used to work is taxing the rich and investing for everybody else so they could take advantage of opportunity and rise themselves. Warren commented that between 1935 and 1980, GDP went up and 90 percent of America got 70 percent of the new growth. In 1980 the Republican Party took us in a new direction. Between 1980 and 2015, 90 percent got zero growth in income. With the Reagan administration taxes were cut as well as investment in education and infrastructure. The GOP adopted a policy that the economy works great for those at the top, and a policy of I got mine, you are on your own. The Democratic platform is fighting back the lingering vestiges of this policy. Warren, an Oklahoma native, invoked her own story. She doesn't want to think her story is stuck back in time. Her father was a salesman who had a fatal heart attack when she was 12. With her two brothers in the military overseas, her mother had to take a minimum wage job.

Warren aspired to be a teacher, but the only way she could reach her goal was to attend a commuter college at $50 per semester. “This opened millions of doors for me,” said Warren. Warren questions Donald Trump’s plan to win the presidency, based on fanning the flames of fear and hatred and getting fellow Americans to turn on each other. His words make her furious, and Warren said she doubled down that he would never be the President of the United States. She commented that Hillary Clinton has been standing up and been on the receiving end of attacks for 25 years. “But she doesn't back down.” Clinton is fighting everyday says Warren for children, healthcare, for women, for human rights, for and level playing field. “She has brains, guts, she has thick skin, steady hands and most of all basic decency which is what this country needs, and that is why I am with her!” Warren swooped in Monday morning to a field office in Aurora to thank volunteers for all their work in getting the vote out. She entered like a rock star, and her message was short and to the point. “I believe in science,” she said as she related the story of her colleague Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) bringing a snowball into the senate chambers to refute global warming. “This election is about health, the economy, democracy and our earth. Hate is not all right. We can’t do it alone.” She concluded before an avalanche of people wanting pictures with her, “Democrats believe in democracy. We’re stronger together!” Democracy requires the vigorous participation of an enthusiastic electorate. African Americans put Barack Obama in the White House. Clyburn noted in his remarks that the expectation from the other side is this year’s turnout will be similar to the one in 2004, which wasn’t great. Prove them wrong and dispel the hype. Let’s turn out and vote for Democrats in November in the same numbers that elected Barack Obama in 2008, and reelected him in 2012. 

Making Progress for Colorado By Michael Bennet Every day families across Colorado go to work, helping their kids get ahead and making our communities a better place. That’s the approach I’ve taken as your U.S. Senator. Our economy is rebounding, but we need to make sure no one gets left behind. That’s why I’ve supported job training programs, as well as initiatives to help our small businesses grow. And as a former school superintendent, I’ve seen how unnecessary regulations can make educating our kids harder, as well as the unacceptable disparities that affect kids in poverty. So we overhauled No Child Left Behind, increasing local control while maintaining accountability. And because quality education should be accessible to everyone at every stage, I’m working to make childcare and college more affordable. You shouldn’t have to sign up for a lifetime of debt to get a college degree, so we’ve expanded Pell Grants and I’m working to simplify the financial aid application process. We’re also working to make safe, affordable housing more accessible. I voted to boost the budgets for public housing agencies, to increase funding for more than 35,000 affordable housing units, and to let fixed-income tenants have their income recertified every three years, instead of annually. Together, we’ve managed to accomplish a lot for Colorado. But there’s still much left to do, including raising the minimum wage, ensuring women get equal pay for equal work and reforming our criminal justice system. I’m running for reelection because I reject the premise that Washington has to stay so dysfunctional. I want to lead us out of that dysfunction, and I’m ready to work with anyone to do that. We need to come together, find common ground and do what voters sent us to Washington to do.

That’s why I’m asking for your vote for U.S. Senate.

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016


All Politics are Local? By Charles Emmons

W

e are in the midst of a presidential election. Voter turnout is expected to be more significant than in mid-term election years. That is something that both parties more or less expect. This is advantageous to candidates as well as those advocates of ballot measures. All politics is local, and in many cases public servants won’t be successful unless they started in their locales or at least have keen and specific knowledge about issues that impact their constituents. Political ads, on television in particular, tend to shout at us, as if we don't have the ability to decide for ourselves. Savvy voters have the ability to decipher the noise, and savvy candidates provide

forums to air these issues. Jovan Melton (HD41), representing a portion of Arapahoe County, holds regular town hall meetings for his constituents at the Heather Gardens community center. Melton is part of the Historic 8, a group of African Americans elected to the Colorado statehouse in 2014. Melton is young. The crowd at Heather Gardens was much older and mostly not Black, yet the discussion was lively. It was evident they appreciated him and the opportunity to discuss the ballot issues. Colorado makes it easy to vote, and you should vote on ballot issues. They have long-term consequences, perhaps more than a candidate ever would. Take TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) and its ongoing impact. On the ballot there are Amendments to the Constitution and Propositions. Melton is on the committee that approves the Blue Book language, and he explained the differences. The House brings forth laws and they become statutes similar to propositions. Amendments to the Colorado Constitution become foundational law, and require 2/3 majority of voters to become law. Each ballot is different, depending on locale. Melton invited Rich Jones from the Bell Policy Center to summarize some of the measures.

Amendment 69-Statewide Healthcare system •This is an amendment because statutory law would be at more risk of elimination in future •Government and business entities seem opposed •It’s expensive on the front end to create a single payer system, but costs may shake out on the other end after implementation

Amendment 70-Increase minimum wage •Drivers of this amendment are housing and expenses •Oakland and San Francisco have raised minimum wage and there has been minimal effect on business pricing •It was an amendment in 2006, must be changed in Constitution by citizen vote •60M are barely making it nationwide, in Colorado 30 percent looking for a loaf of bread

Amendment 71-Ability to change the Colorado Constitution •Concern about TABOR •Former Mayor Wellington Webb supports this measure •1912-1964, 72 Amendments made to Colorado Constitution; 1964-1979, 74 Amendments made to Colorado Constitution. By comparison - 26 changes have been made to the U.S. Constitution

•Colorado has been an initiative state since 1912 whereby citizens may initiate and ratify amendments to their state constitutions without the legislature. Melton noted that Colorado is one of two states that offer the easiest way to amend its constitution.

Amendment 72-Smoking Tax •Taxing sin discourages smoking •Costs to the healthcare system •Current tobacco tax is in the Constitution vs. Marijuana Tax which is not

Amendment T- Change Archaic language regarding servitude and slavery •This got unanimous support in the House and the Senate. We must become more vigilant, educated voters. Policy is frequently based in precedent, and states monitor what others are doing. Remember poll taxes in the south and the new restrictive voter registration laws challenged in no less than 20 states today. Vote, and take others with you. Don't let bad people get elected and make bad laws. Closing the meeting Melton said, “Election outcomes make a difference. Your voice has far-reaching impact.” 2016 Ballot guides are available from the Bell Policy Center, for more information, visit http://www.bellpolicy.org and the Colorado League of Women Voters, http://www.lwvcolorado.org.

“I’m just like everyone else.” I’ve faced the same kinds of challenges as my neighbors have. Throughout my life, I have been able to advocate for myself, and now I want to go to Colorado’s State Capitol to make sure that everyone gets a fair shot at being successful. Two subjects consistently come up while I’m going door-to-door, talking to voters in Aurora’s House District 42. Many people say they’re worried about the quality of their children’s education and the lack of accessible housing across our state. I was once a homeless teenager, so I know how important it is to have a safe and affordable place to live. I believe housing is the cornerstone to self-(sufficiency. That’s why I’ve served the people of Aurora as a Commissioner for Housing & Community Development. I’ve also served on Denver’s Commission on Homelessness. I have some ideas on how we can create more options for affordable housing and I’m committed to ensuring the health and safety of families across our state. As a high school dropout, I also know what it takes to get an education. I put myself through undergraduate school at Metropolitan State University and graduate school at the University of Denver. (I must still pass a foreign language exam to fully matriculate.) We have to do more to promote hope for all of our kids. To me, that means giving them a good start by supporting options for early learning and helping our children get ready to start school. It means nurturing the “whole child” by including physical education, the arts and civics. We also need to offer substantive options for vocational training. Often represented in both of these issues are systemic barriers, which greatly limit our collective opportunities. We have to be creative and courageous,

but together, we can overcome. Vote for me, Dominique Jackson on November 8. www.jacksonforcolorado.com The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016


A History of the Democratic By Charles Emmons

T

he Democratic Party is the oldest voter-based political party in the world. Andrew Jackson started it in 1824, and was the first president elected from the party in 1829. Both Republicans and Democrats mounted grassroots efforts to get voters out for their parties. As the country expanded, they relied on patronage for financing, which led to a reliance on big city political machines and networks of newspapers. Irish immigrants increasingly controlled the cities and Democrats were a proponent for farmers as well as urban workers. It was less attractive to businessmen, plantation owners, Evangelical Protestants, and social reformers. The party advocat-

Party ed westward expansion and Manifest Destiny and opposed national banks. Between the Civil War and the Great Depression in 1932, only two Democratic presidents were elected. They were more competitive in Congress, electing majorities in the House of Representatives 15 out of 36 times. But it was often splintered by the interests in the Eastern cities and the agrarian elements of the poor farmers in the South and West, an indication of what was to be a part of its legacy. The Democratic Party has long seen splits over the interests of North and South. Southern Democrats wanted to expand slavery beyond the South. The Free Soil Party, a faction of the party opposed this. Free Soil Party members sided with the Republicans in 1854, which had little support in the South. Lincoln was elected president in 1860, in part due to Democratic Party infighting and on the premise that Democratic slaveholders were trying to take over the federal government.

After Emancipation and Reconstruction many African Americans became Lincoln Republicans. But then Reconstruction ended when Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops in southern states protecting progress. Jim Crow laws ruled the day. Many Blacks languished with little opportunity in the south in the agriculture industry. In 1929 Wall Street crashed. In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected and initiated New Deal programs like the WPA, and later Social Security. This was a progressive era for Democrats who held the White House until 1945 at the end of War II. Roosevelt’s wife, had his ear, and urged equality in the armed forces. This eventually brought the inception of the Tuskegee Airmen and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s vice president, integrating the armed forces. The war brought prosperity to many African Americans who found jobs not only in the service, but also in supporting the war effort. The Korean War brought

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

more African Americans into the service. Thousands of Blacks migrated from the south to the northern cities. When Truman took over after Roosevelt’s death in 1945, there were numerous factions he had to contend with including, big city political machines, liberal coalitions that included the NAACP and AFLCIO, and southern states. Truman was re-elected in 1948 after overcoming opposition by the Dixiecrats, Democrats who opposed his platform for civil rights and anti-segregation laws. He entered the Korean War without congressional approval. There was a significant opposition by the coalition of conservative Republicans and southern Democrats. Truman dropped out of the 1952 election, and Eisenhower was elected over Adlai Stevenson twice. In the 1958 election Democrats made dramatic gains in the


House, mostly due to organized labor. However most Democrats from southern states were conservative and they sided with Republicans in blocking liberal progressive legislation. Although Democrats had majorities in the House every election from 1930-1992 (except 1946 and 1952), the Conservative Coalition blocked every piece of liberal legislation from 1937-1970s. The exceptions were Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs in 1964-65. To counterbalance the Conservative Coalition the Democratic Study Group was created with the intent of liberalizing the institutions of Congress. The Kennedy-Johnson era brought the most significant change for the Democratic Party. The legislation and the battles for civil rights behind the scenes, and on the television caught the attention of the country. Kennedy insisted Freedom Riders be protected by federal marshals and after his assassination. Johnson was able to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964-65 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As the liberal Democrats embraced civil rights the south became more Republican. Newly enfranchised Blacks voted Democratic and leaders that inspired generations, like Julian Bond, Barbara Jordan, and John Lewis emerged. Change seemed to be on the horizon. While the Viet Nam War raged on, mass opposition raged also in the country. When Robert Kennedy was assassinated after wining a key primary in California our hopes were dashed. In 1968 Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey who barely lost to Nixon in the election, but Democrats retained control of Congress. Another Democratic president wasn't elected until Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter created the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He bolstered social security, and appointed record numbers of minorities and women to judicial posts. But he was not able to pass a national health plan or reform the tax system as he promised. In 1980 Carter lost reelection to Ronald Reagan, and Democrats lost 12 Senate seats, but retained control of the House. Conservative Democrats or so-called Reagan Democrats were instrumental in his election, and the election of George H.W. Bush. In response to these defeats the Democratic Leadership Council was created in 1985 to move the party rightwards to the center to recover support lost to Republicans. The goal was to retain left of center voters as well as moderates on social issues, and to broaden appeal to those who opposed Republicans. This shift perhaps was instrumental in electing the next Democratic president,

Bill Clinton, in 1992. It was the first time in 12 years there was a Democrat in the White House. This was a heyday. The federal budget was balanced; the economy was robust and significant gun control legislation was passed. The Family and Medical Leave Act gave workers up to 12 weeks of un-paid leave for childbirth or family medical issues. Clinton was the first re-elected president since Johnson 1964, but Democrats lost both Houses in 1994. With decreasing labor membership in the 1960s, unions lost much of their influence with Democrats and some argued it had become more pro-business and lessprogressive. Some more left-leaning progressives felt a degree of alienation. Al Gore barely lost the 2000 election in the Electoral College by four votes, despite winning the popular vote. Democrats gained five seats in the Senate and 50-50 split. But the Republicans regained Senate control in 2002 and 2004, leaving Democrats with only 44 seats, the fewest since the Depression era. But 9-11 changed the country. National security got more attention than domestic issues. Although there were recessions and job losses in 2001 and 2002, Democrats made little inroads running on jobs and economic issues. At the 2004 convention Sen. John Kerry was nominated because he was more centrist, had support of the Democratic Leadership Council and more electable than the progressive Sen. Howard Dean. Kerry lost and the Party began some self-reflection. The Iraq war wasn't popular, the handling of Katrina was a disaster, and the deficit ballooned. The time was right for change in 2008. In mid-term 2006 they regained the House. Nancy Pelosi became the first woman elected as Speaker of the House. Within 100 hours of being sworn in, the 110th Congress had passed the Democratic 100 hour Plan that includedfunding, raising the federal minimum wage and ending subsidies to oil companies. Other initiatives, including funding stem cell research and cutting the student loan interest rate died in the Senate. Progress is hard work, and with Democrats, progress has not come without struggle. When Barack Obama was inaugurated the 44th president in 2009, he faced un-precedented opposition and obstruction from Republicans. Within the first 100 days, he signed legislation for fair pay, child insurance, and the Stimulus package. During his first term he also appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Obama’s legacy will be determined by this election. His signature legislation is the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans would like to repeal. 

Election 2016

Making Voting Accessible & Convenient Every registered voter in Colorado will receive a ballot in the mail at their address on file with the Secretary of State. If you need to register to vote or update your mailing address, you must do so on or before October 31st in order to receive a ballot in the mail. After October 31st, you can register to vote in person at any Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC) in your county. You will be able to cast a ballot in person after registering.

How to Register to Vote

Coloradans can register to vote up to and on Election Day. If you have a driver’s license or identification card issued by the state of Colorado, you can register online at GoVoteColorado.com. Alternately, you can register to vote in person at a VSPC beginning on October 24th. You must have been a resident of Colorado for 22 days by Election Day.

How to Vote

(There are 3 different ways!)

 Return your ballot by mail. Remember to include postage! off the ballot you received in the mail  Drop at a VSPC or drop box. Visit JustVoteColorado.org to find your nearest VSPC or drop box.

in person at any Voter Service and  Vote Polling Center in your county. VSPCs will be open beginning Monday, October 24th. Remember: If you vote in person you must bring an ID, but it doesn’t have to be a photo ID. For more information, visit JustVoteColorado.org.

Questions?

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JustVoteColorado.org 866-OUR-VOTE

Visit JustVoteColorado.org to find answers to frequently asked questions, learn about your voting rights, and more. Call our Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE for additional assistance or to report issues. Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection is a non-partisan voter assistance project and is not affiliated with or promoting any party, candidate or ballot issue.

VOTE Yes ON

4B!

Photo by Erin Bird, courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens

Renew the SCFD ~ Culture for All • 300 cultural gems in the metro region — including Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and nearly 300 more • Educational experiences for 4.25 million children • More than 100 Free Days each year • A $1.8 billion boost to our regional economy Endorsed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver City Council, The Denver Post, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Visit Denver and hundreds more To “be 4” Culture - start at the bottom of your ballot and Vote Yes on 4B! Visit www.YesOnSCFD.com to learn more. Paid for by Citizens for Arts to Zoo

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016


Higher Heights for America…Building the Political Power of Black Women By Charles Emmons

“At present our country needs women’s idealism and determination perhaps more in politics than anywhere else.”

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

A

s we approach Election Day it is instructive to look back. Who elected President Barack Obama into office? It was largely because African Americans turned out in huge numbers. And who voted the most within the community? It was women. Black women have political economic and political power, yet they are not recognized. This was the message at a gathering of nearly 300 women the end of September. The cross-generational salon talk was held at Wystone’s Northfield and was organized by State Rep. Angela Williams in partnership with Higher Heights for America, a national non-profit exclusively dedicated to harnessing, organizing and mobilizing Black women’s political power making sure they have the tools to effectively engage, advocate and lead. Rep. Williams represents the Northeast Denver neighborhoods of North Park Hill, Stapleton, Green Valley Ranch, and Montbello. It was like a who’s

Photo by McBoat Photography

who at the informal gathering with Hon. Gloria Tanner, Hon.Violet Ricks, Rep. Rhonda Fields, Rep. Janet Buckner, Dr. Fannie Evans, and Carla Ladd being some of the notables attending in support of the event. Williams told the women that it’s to stop minimizing Black women’s voices, and that women bring African Americans

together in the state. “This has always been about building a collective voice of influential African American women in the State of Colorado. Ultimately, we always show up as the most active and reliable voting bloc in any election,” said Williams. “Our community needs it, our state needs it and our nation will definitely be all the better for it.”

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016

Glynda Carr, one of the founders of Higher Heights for America thanked the women for being the largest salon conversation in the country. She remarked about activist Mary McLeod Bethune, an advisor to Roosevelt, Truman, Coolidge, and Hoover, and her quote on the wall of the newly opened African American History Museum in Washington, D.C.


“If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs.” -Mary McLeod Bethune Black women lead. Black women exemplify courage, but they continue to be the least heard. Carr commented that Black women spend $.85 of every dollar or $565B in the community. “We showed up and showed out because Obama was Black and we were motivated to campaign and organize in a way that hadn’t been done before and became political donors,” said Carr. In this historic role Black women took to social media. “What Black women must do is harness social media to move political dollars. Why can’t we develop an organization and money in the community? There are 23M Black women in this country, but we are underrepresented,” said Carr. As Black women make inroads economically and politically it is time to organize collectively to advocate and push for their equity due. This advocacy for equity comes from a groundswell of these conversations occurring across the country, in 34 cities since 2015. The aim is to devise a blueprint and roadmap before 2020. It appears the walls and doors may be closed, but the ceiling is cracked. The synergy began in that room. Carr gave them a 20-minute discussion exercise with purposeful and targeted assignments with 4-5 similar peers. We

stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, and Carr first asked them to weigh in on this and other questions regarding Black women and leadership. The questions included to name Black women in history you admire, what is the top issue for Black women, what is the biggest barrier to running for office, how do we collectively make this the year, and how do we do something individually? Carr will take the answers and publish a case study from the data. A few women took the mike and reported the results. The women named local women like Dr. Rachel Noel, as well as Michelle Obama and Barbara Jordan. A group of teens also named Rhonda Fields and Angela Williams among others. Recurring themes regarding other questions were that knowledge of events and the political process, encouragement by others, and mentoring would help women become more involved and willing to run for a position. Some other poignant comments made: “TV has stigmatized us and impedes our ability to be taken seriously.” “Women set the pace for the village.” “Support one another. Speak authentically and there is no need to be competitive.” The young teen group made a significant contribution to the discussion. They believed collective healing, mentoring and coalition building, generational dialogue and support and thinking for themselves is essential to building political power.

Facts You Should Know About

• Black women make $.60 for every dollar a white man makes • Pay equity days: The day women must work into the next year to earn what a man earned the previous year • Women’s pay equity day is April 15th • Black women’s pay equity is August 15th • 18 U.S. Representatives are Black women - 3.4% of Congress but 7% of the population • No Black women in the U.S. Senate - Only one women of color in the U.S. Senate • 1840+ State legislators yet there are only 259 Black women legislators in the country • There are four (4) Black women mayors in cities - Toledo, San Antonio, Washington D.C., and Baltimore At the conclusion of the discussions and presentations of the groups, Carr pointed out opportunities, places and forums where women can start being more political. These include commissions, school boards, church leadership, and even school PTO’s. “Build the capacity to lead and use the resources that you have.” Carr’s goal is to have 20,000 members in Higher Heights by 2020. Black women must continue voting, no matter who is running. Carr talked about her mother who always had a vote plan of bringing a cooler with water and 10 other people to the polls. She urged the women to have their own plan. She also commented that on average it takes asking Black women 9 times before they will run for an office. This is an area where there is work to be done. By the tone of the buzz of conversation in the room, it was evident that the discussion was vigorous. Williams in thanking and closing the event said,

“Everyone was still here. No one left.” She then laid out her vision for future interactions – for the room to come together for advocacy, to stand up and talk about inequities, to take advantage of state contracts and influence opportunities, to influence decisions that are being made that affect our families. “We can’t be hating on each other. We are stronger together,” said Williams. This event was a beginning. Williams plans future sessions on how to strengthen Black women’s voices in grassroots advocacy campaigns and the electoral process. “From the voting booth to elected office to boardrooms and CEO offices, Colorado’s Black women can and must translate their political power into business, education and economic growth,” added Williams. Editor’s note: For More information, visit http://www.higherheightsforamerica.org, @HigherHeights4, #BlackWomenRun, #BlackWomenVote, #BlackWomen Lead

I am running to be the next State Senator of Senate District 33. As the the State Representative for the past six years representing House District 7, I have been a successful legislator who can bring people together on both sides of the isle to find common solutions to complex issues. As one of the few minority women serving in the legislature, standing up for women’s rights and advancing the rights of Colorado women is a priority. As your next State Senator I will continue to fight for equal pay and a woman’s right to control her own health decisions. For our community and my son, I have taken action to implement police reforms. Under my leadership, law enforcement now have improved training protocols, increased transparency, improved background employment checks, and body camera requirements. l also helped make college affordable for thousands of Colorado students, who now qualify for in state tuition thanks to the ASSET bill I sponsored and I will continue to work for more accessible affordable education for all Coloradans. In addition to improving life working families remains a priority of mine. I support increasing the minimum wage for Colorado workers. As a business owner for 14 years, I have always and will continue to be a voice for small businesses, removing barriers and promoting growth. I will continue to introduce legislation that promotes equality for small minority businesses in state procurement contracting. As your next State Senator, I will continue to listen to the community’s concerns, remain visible and accessible to constituents. I will fight for affordable college for our students and introduce legislation like the WORK Act I sponsored in 2015 which created $10M in grants to train skilled workers. I will be your voice on economic development, senior services and accessible health care.

“It will be my honor to earn your vote on Nov. 8th.”

Vote for Angela Williams the legislator who gets things done.

Angela

Williams FOR STATE SENATOR

SENATE DISTRICT 33 • DEMOCRAT

The Webb Report – Colorado African American Network – November 2016


Thank you… On behalf of the Denver Urban Spectrum and Jackie Emmons, we would like to thank all who participated in making the Charles Emmons “Honoring the Muse” video and digital publication tribute possible. Without his family, friends, stories he wrote and people he profiled, this project would not have been possible. If you would like to keep a remembrance of Charles Emmons’ legacy and his contributions to the Denver Urban Spectrum, feel free to download this complimentary digital publication. To honor his life, a donation to one of the following organizations that Charles supported will help keep his memory alive. Denver Kids, Inc. – www.denverkids.org/ Youth With A Future – www.ywfleaders.com/ Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation – www.denverurbanspectrum.com/usyf

“I am a writer and content provider who is passionate about telling stories that might not otherwise be told. Writing about business and community leaders, politics, entertainers, sports figures and lifestyles, my subjects are varied, but always pertinent.” – Charles Walker Emmons

Video and Digital Publication Production Team Rosalind “Bee” Harris – Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher / Producer Tanya Ishikawa – Video Editor / Co-producer Cecile Perrin – Intro and Credits Editor Jody Gilbert – Graphics Assistance Jan Thomas – Freelance Writer / Narrator Bobby Wells – Music: Made to Overcome (www.bobbywellschristianmusic.com)

Denver Urban Spectrum • P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041 • 303-292-6446

Profile for Denver Urban Spectrum

Honoring the Muse - Charles Walker Emmons  

A digital book memorial tribute honoring the live of Charles Emmons, a journalist who passed away on December 4, 2020. He was a contributor...

Honoring the Muse - Charles Walker Emmons  

A digital book memorial tribute honoring the live of Charles Emmons, a journalist who passed away on December 4, 2020. He was a contributor...